Use of a scanning densitometer or an ELISA plate reader for measurement of nanogram amounts of protein in crude extracts from biological tissues

Anal Biochem. 1988 Mar;169(2):227-33. doi: 10.1016/0003-2697(88)90278-3.


Protein contents of crude extracts from plant and animal tissues can be rapidly assayed using a Coomassie blue dye-binding procedure combined with scanning densitometry. Total protein is extracted from 100 mg of fresh-frozen or dried-ground tissue using 1 ml of extraction buffer. One-microliter aliquots of standard solutions or crude extracts are spotted in rows on a suitably sized sheet of Whatman 3MM chromatography paper. The dried samples are stained with Coomassie brilliant blue R-250 (0.2%, w/v, in acidified 50% MeOH) for 20 min and rinsed twice with acidified 20% MeOH. After drying, protein concentrations are read as reflectance using a scanning densitometer and peak heights or peak areas recorded using a digital integrator. In an alternative procedure, each spot is cut from the sample sheet and the dye-protein complex eluted in 1% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) using an ultrasonic cleaner. Absorbance is subsequently read in a microwell sample holder at 590 nm with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay plate reader. Both procedures offer distinct advantages over previously reported methods. They are significantly faster when large numbers of samples are processed, they avoid interference by chlorophyll, dithiothreitol, SDS, 2-mercaptoethanol, Nonidet P-40, and phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride (and other protease inhibitors) and they yield marked improvements in sensitivity, providing measurements of protein concentration below 100 and 200 ng.microliter-1, respectively.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Densitometry / instrumentation
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / instrumentation
  • Liver / analysis
  • Microchemistry
  • Plant Extracts / analysis
  • Plant Proteins / analysis*
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Rats
  • Rosaniline Dyes
  • Soybeans / analysis
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Tissue Extracts / analysis


  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Rosaniline Dyes
  • Tissue Extracts
  • coomassie Brilliant Blue