& Data Analysis
Protein gel analysis
Keeping a lab notebook
Writing research papers
Dimensions & units
Using figures (graphs)
Examples of graphs
Principles of microscopy
Solutions & dilutions
Fractionation & centrifugation
Radioisotopes and detection
Hartree-Lowry and Modified Lowry Protein Assays
Considerations for use
The Lowry assay (1951) is an often-cited general use protein assay. For some time it was the method of choice for accurate protein determination for cell fractions, chromatography fractions, enzyme preparations, and so on. The bicinchoninic acid (BCA) assay is based on the same princple and can be done in one step, therefore it has been suggested (Stoscheck, 1990) that the 2-step Lowry method is outdated. However, the modified Lowry is done entirely at room temperature. The Hartree version of the Lowry assay, a more recent modification that uses fewer reagents, improves the sensitivity with some proteins, is less likely to be incompatible with some salt solutions, provides a more linear response, and is less likely to become saturated. The Hartree-Lowry assay will be described first.
Under alkaline conditions the divalent copper ion forms a complex with peptide bonds in which it is reduced to a monovalent ion. Monovalent copper ion and the radical groups of tyrosine, tryptophan, and cysteine react with Folin reagent to produce an unstable product that becomes reduced to molybdenum/tungsten blue.
In addition to standard liquid handling supplies a spectrophotometer with infrared lamp and filter is required. Glass or polystyrene (cheap) cuvettes may be used.
Procedure - Hartree-Lowry assay
Prepare a standard curve of absorbance versus micrograms protein (or vice versa), and determine amounts from the curve. Determine concentrations of original samples from the amount protein, volume/sample, and dilution factor, if any.
Procedure - modified Lowry (room temperature)
Recording of absorbances need only be done within 10 min. of each other for this modified procedure, whereas the original Lowry required precise timing of readings due to color instability. This modification is less sensitive to interfering agents and is more sensitive to protein than the original. As with most assays, the Lowry can be scaled up for larger cuvette sizes, however more protein is consumed. Proteins with an abnormally high or low percentage of tyrosine, tryptophan, or cysteine residues will give high or low errors, respectively.