Distortion of protein analysis in primary neuronal cultures by serum albumin from culture medium: a methodological approach to improve target protein quantification

Willis, A., Pratt, J. A. and Morris, B. J. (2018) Distortion of protein analysis in primary neuronal cultures by serum albumin from culture medium: a methodological approach to improve target protein quantification. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 308, pp. 1-5. (doi:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2018.07.002) (PMID:30033387)

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Abstract

Background: Primary neuronal cultures underpin diverse neuroscience experiments, including various protein analysis techniques, such as Western blotting, whereby protein extraction from cultured neurons is required. During immunoblotting experiments, we encountered problems due to a highly-abundant protein of 65-70 KDa present in the cell extracts, that interfered with total protein estimation, and immunodetection of target proteins of similar size. Previous research has suggested that serum proteins, specifically albumin, contained within commonly-used culture media, can bind to, or be adsorbed by, generic cell culture plasticware. This residual albumin may then be extracted along with cell proteins. New Method: We made simple modifications to wash steps of traditional cell lysis/extraction protocols. Results: We report that a substantial amount of albumin, accumulated from the standard culture media, is extracted from primary neuronal cultures along with the cellular contents. This contamination can be reduced, without changing the culture conditions, by modifying wash procedures. Comparison with Existing Methods: Accumulated albumin from neuronal culture media, in amounts equivalent to cellular contents, can distort data from total protein assays and from the immunoreactive signal from nearby bands on Western blots. By altering wash protocols during protein extraction, these problems can be ameliorated. Conclusions: We suggest that the standard extended culture periods for primary neuronal cultures, coupled with the requirement for successive medium changes, may leave them particularly susceptible to cumulative albumin contamination from the culture media used. Finally, we propose the implementation of simple alterations to wash steps in protein extraction protocols which can ameliorate this interference.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:We would like to thank the University of Glasgow College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership for financially supporting this work.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Willis, Ashleigh and Morris, Professor Brian
Authors: Willis, A., Pratt, J. A., and Morris, B. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Journal of Neuroscience Methods
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0165-0270
ISSN (Online):1872-678X
Published Online:06 July 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V.
First Published:First published in Journal of Neuroscience Methods 2018
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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