The BCA assay primarily relies on two reactions.
Firstly, the peptide bonds in protein reduce Cu2+ ions from the cupric sulfate to Cu1+ (a temperature dependent reaction). The amount of Cu2+ reduced is proportional to the amount of protein present in the solution. Next, two molecules of bicinchoninic acid chelate with each Cu1+ ion, forming a purple-colored product that strongly absorbs light at a wavelength of 562 nm.
The bicinchoninic acid Cu1+ complex is aided in protein samples by the presence of cysteine, cystine, tyrosine, and tryptophan side chains. At higher temperatures (37oC to 60oC), peptide bonds assist in the formation of the reaction product. Incubating the BCA assay at higher temperatures is recommended as a way to increase assay sensitivity while minimizing the variances caused by unequal amino acid composition (Olsen and Markwell, 2007).
The amount of protein present in a solution can be quantified by measuring the absorption spectra and comparing with protein solutions with known concentrations.
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