Aqueous Solubility of Beryllium(II) at Physiological pH: Effects of Buffer Composition and Counterions

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Preparative Biochemistry and Biotechnology

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Beryllium ion elicits p53-mediated cell cycle arrest in some types of human cancer cells, and it is a potent inhibitor of GSK3 kinase activity. Paradoxically, Be2+ is regarded to have almost negligible aqueous solubility at physiological pH, due to precipitation as Be(OH)2. This study demonstrates that the interaction of Be2+ with serum proteins greatly increases its effective solubility. In typical serum-supplemented mammalian cell culture medium, Be2+ was soluble up to about 0.5 mM, which greatly exceeds the concentration needed for biological activity. Some biochemical studies require protein-free Be2+ solutions. In such cases, the inclusion of a specific inorganic counterion, sulfate, increased solubility considerably. The role of sulfate as a solubility-enhancing factor became evident during preparation of buffered solutions, as the apparent solubility of Be2+ depended on whether H2SO4 or a different strong acid was used for pH adjustment. The binding behavior of Be2+ observed via isothermal titration calorimetry was affected by the inclusion of sodium sulfate. The data reflect a “Diverse Ion Effect” consistent with ion pair formation between solvated Be2+ and sulfate. These insights into the solubility behavior of Be2+ at physiological and near-physiological pH will provide guidance to assist sample preparation for biochemical studies.


Beryllium ion; Biological buffer; Precipitation; Ionic strength; Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES); Sample preparation; 10-hydroxybenzo[h]quinoline-7-sulfonate (HBQS)





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