The BCA protein assay is used for quantitation of total protein in a sample. The principle of this method is that proteins can reduce Cu+2 to Cu+1 in an alkaline solution (the biuret reaction) and result in a purple color formation by bicinchoninic acid. The reduction of copper is mainly caused by four amino acid residues including cysteine or cystine, tyrosine, and tryptophan that are present in protein molecules. However, unlike the Coomassie dye-binding methods, the universal peptide backbone also contributes to color formation, helping to minimize variability caused by protein compositional differences. Compared to the Bradford assay, the BCA assay is more objective since the universal peptide backbone also contributes to color formation. One disadvantage of the BCA assay compared to the Bradford assay is that it is susceptible to interference by some chemicals present in protein samples, including reducing agents (i.e. DTT and beta—mercaptoethanol), copper chelators (i.e. EDTA, EGTA) and buffers with high concentration, which can be avoided by generating diluted samples.
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