Multiplex Protein Detection

What is multiplexing in Western blots?

Multiplexing fluorescent Western blots, also referred to as multiplex fluorescence,  is the ability to detect multiple proteins simultaneously on the same blot. This allows you to get all the information you need at once. Fluorescent Western blotting uses secondary antibodies directly conjugated to fluorescent dyes.

Fluorophores for fluorescent Western blotting can be chosen based on their specific excitation and emission spectra, enabling multiplexing (Figure 1) for faster, more efficient studies. One of the biggest advantages of fluorescent detection versus chemiluminescence is the ability to use more than one antibody per assay (see the Table).

Multiplex detection is possible by using two or more fluorescent dyes on an instrument that can excite and detect light from each dye

Advantages of multiplexing

With multiplexing, normalization and loading controls can be imaged at the same time and on the same blot as the sample. The ability to use different fluorophores enables visualization of proteins that are not well-separated electrophoretically. This allows for more convenient imaging of the same protein with and without post-translational modifications.

Multiplex capabillityCan be less sensitive than chemiluminescence
Increased quantitative accuracyMembranes' auto fluorescence can increase background
Fluorescent label stability allows blots to be stored and re-imaged later

Fluorescent Western blots are the gold standard for quantitative Westerns. Unlike chemiluminescent Westerns, which are limited by the variable kinetics of the enzyme-substrate reaction, the amount of light emitted from fluorophores is highly consistent and directly proportional to the amount of protein on the membrane. This consistency means that fluorescent detection can provide a truly quantitative analysis of the proteins in question.

How you can save time with multiplexing

Fluorescent Westerns are typically visualized using a digital imager rather than X-ray film (Figure 2). The newer generation of imaging systems often contain sophisticated cameras that exhibit a broader dynamic range than film, thus avoiding the signal saturation problems that limit the dynamic range of film. Finally, fluorescent dyes are relatively stable. Blots can be archived and imaged months after the initial experiment as long as precautions are taken to avoid photo-bleaching of the fluorophores.

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Application NoteImaging Three-color Western Blots with the Azure c600DOWNLOAD
Application NoteIncreasing Assay Efficiency with Four-Color DetectionDOWNLOAD

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