Lithium acetate is a salt made from acetic acid and lithium. The chemical symbol of the salt is LiCH3CO2. Lithium acetate is formed through the neutralization process of acetic acid, CH3CO2H (a weak acid), and lithium hydroxide LiOH (H2O) n (a strong base).
Like any neutralization reaction between a base and an acid, water is one of the by-products of this reaction: LiOH + CH3COOH = LiCH3COO + H2O
Properties of Lithium Acetate
Lithium acetate (LiCH3CO2) is moderately soluble in water, white in color, and has low electric conductivity. The percentage chemical of lithium acetate is as follows:
- Lithium – 10.519%
- Hydrogen – 4.583%
- Carbon – 36.404%
- Oxygen – 48.494%
The salt has a molecular mass of 65.98502 g/mol, with a density of 1-C.26 g/cm3 and a melting point range of 283-285 °C. Lithium acetate is also known as acetic acid lithium salt, lithium salt (1:1), and Acetic acid salt.
Uses of Lithium Acetate (LiCH3CO2)
Lithium acetate (LiCH3CO2) is very useful in life transformation processes; to be precise, DNA analysis. During DNA and RNA analysis, Lithium acetate is used as a buffer for gel electrophoresis of DNA and RNA.
Due to its low electrical conductivity and ability to be run at high speed, lithium salt gels from the TAE buffer. The TAE buffer is a mixture of EDTA, Tris base, and acetic acid and functions as a buffer solution.
The heat generation at a particular voltage will trigger lower gel temperatures compared to the TAE buffers. When this happens, the voltage is increased to fasten the electrophoresis; therefore the gel will take only a fraction of the average time.
When you use lithium acetate gels during downstream applications, the applications work effectively and quickly. Examples of downstream applications during RNA or DNA analysis include:
- Isolating DNA from gel slices
- Southern blot analysis
Sodium boric acid and lithium boric are preferred during the analysis of smaller fragments of the DNA, which is less than 500 bp. The two compounds have a higher resolution in size range of the borate-based buffers compared to the acetate buffers.
Lithium acetate is also used during DNA transformation. The salt helps in permeabilizing the yeast’s cell wall. Experts in material science and life sciences believe that the beneficial effect of lithium acetate is brought about by its chemical chaotropic effect, which denatures the RNA, DNA, and proteins.
A chaotropic effect is the ability of a molecule in a water solution to disrupt the hydrogen bonding network present in water molecules hence exerting the chaotropic activity.