Debbie Knight

Photo of the Week

In photo log on April 10, 2012 at 9:00 am

One of my favorite parts of protein analysis is making a solution of sodium orthovanadate (NaVO4).

When I add a little hydrochloric acid (HCl) to the solution, it turns yellow (photo on far left). As the solution comes to a boil, the yellow fades to clear (left to right).

That’s the part I like — the color change!

For those who want to know what’s going on at the chemical level, I have to say I’m not a chemist. But the person who trained me in this procedure told me the color change was because the “ortho” in the orthovanadate changed to another form. I looked it up online. Three sources stated this is done to activate (depolymerize) the orthovanadate so it’s better at its job — which is to prevent certain enzymes (phosphatases) in the protein extract from munching on certain parts (phosphate groups) found on many proteins in a cell.

Perhaps I’m easily entertained, but watching for the moment when the color changes never gets “old” — even after the 247th time!

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