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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Radiolabeling of proteins and viruses in vitro by acetylation with radioactive acetic anhydride.

We describe a convenient, rapid, and reproducible method for labeling proteins in vitro by acetylation with [3H] or [14-C]acetic anhydride dissolved in small amounts of anhydrous dioxane. The reaction is carried out at neutral pH and does not require the use of detergents, water-immiscible organic solvents, oxidizing, or reducing agents. Thus undesirable solvent-induced alterations in protein structure and biological activity are minimized. A method for calculating the specific activity of the protein and the efficiency of acetylation at known concentrations of protein and acetic anhydride is presented. Radioacetylated proteins were shown to be suitable for use as molecular weight calibration standards and as protein markers in polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, gel filtration, and enzyme studies. Acetic anhydride was used to label intact oncornaviruses, which consist of a complex ribonucleo-protein core within a lipid envelope. Some of the viral lipid and all of the viral proteins, including the internal ones, were labeled without detectable alterations in viral morphology or buoyant density. This result suggests that acetic anhydride, evidently by virtue of its small size and neutral charge, penetrates freely throughout the viral membrane and core structures. The reactivity of RNA with acetic anhydride was less than 1% that of protein under similar reaction conditions.[1]


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