& Data Analysis
Protein gel analysis
|List of methods
Direct absorbance measurement
Bradford protein assay
Considerations for use
The Bradford assay is very fast and uses about the same amount of protein as the Lowry assay. It is fairly accurate and samples that are out of range can be retested within minutes. The Bradford is recommended for general use, especially for determining protein content of cell fractions and assesing protein concentrations for gel electrophoresis.
Assay materials including color reagent, protein standard, and instruction booklet are available from Bio-Rad Corporation. The method described below is for a 100 µl sample volume using 5 ml color reagent. It is sensitive to about 5 to 200 micrograms protein, depending on the dye quality. In assays using 5 ml color reagent prepared in lab, the sensitive range is closer to 5 to 100 µg protein. Scale down the volume for the "microassay procedure," which uses 1 ml cuvettes. Protocols, including use of microtiter plates are described in the flyer that comes with the Bio-Rad kit.
The assay is based on the observation that the absorbance maximum for an acidic solution of Coomassie Brilliant Blue G-250 shifts from 465 nm to 595 nm when binding to protein occurs. Both hydrophobic and ionic interactions stabilize the anionic form of the dye, causing a visible color change. The assay is useful since the extinction coefficient of a dye-albumin complex solution is constant over a 10-fold concentration range.
In addition to standard liquid handling supplies a visible light spectrophotometer is needed, with maximum transmission in the region of 595 nm, on the border of the visible spectrum (no special lamp or filter usually needed). Glass or polystyrene (cheap) cuvettes may be used, however the color reagent stains both. Disposable cuvettes are recommended.
Prepare a standard curve of absorbance versus micrograms protein and determine amounts from the curve. Determine concentrations of original samples from the amount protein, volume/sample, and dilution factor, if any.
The dye reagent reacts primarily with arginine residues and less so with histidine, lysine, tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine residues. Obviously, the assay is less accurate for basic or acidic proteins. The Bradford assay is rather sensitive to bovine serum albumin, more so than "average" proteins, by about a factor of two. Immunoglogin G (IgG - gamma globulin) is the preferred protein standard. The addition of 1 M NaOH was suggested by Stoscheck (1990) to allow the solubilization of membrane proteins and reduce the protein-to-protein variation in color yield.