A silver stain was used to detect and quantitate proteins adsorbed to microtiter plate wells. The kinetics of the development of the silver stain were analyzed with an automated microtiter plate reader. The lag time for stain development was found to be a consistent indicator of the amount of protein adsorbed to a microtiter plate well. Protein which was not preadsorbed to the microtiter plate was not effectively stained by silver. Complete adsorption of protein applied to the microtiter plate was possible by drying small amounts of protein in very dilute buffers. Variations in sensitivity for different proteins were less than 30% for the panel of proteins examined. Determinations from kinetic silver staining agreed with those from copper staining for bovine albumin adsorbed to microtiter plates. The precision of kinetic silver staining assay was optimal in the range of 40 to 200 ng per microtiter plate well. In this range, the standard deviations averaged less than 5%. Even smaller amounts of protein can be detected and interpolated down to approximately 10 ng per well. The kinetic silver staining method can be used on standard microtiter plate readers without special filters and is readily adaptable to automated systems.
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