Sensitive fluorescence detection of polyphosphate in polyacrylamide gels using 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindol

Stephanie A. Smith, James H. Morrissey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PAGE is commonly used to identify and resolve inorganic polyphosphates (polyP). We now report highly sensitive and specific staining methods for polyP in polyacrylamide gels based on the fluorescent dye, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindol (DAPI). DAPI bound to polyP in gels fluoresced yellow while DAPI bound to nucleic acids or glycosaminoglycans fluoresced blue. Inclusion of EDTA prevented staining of glycosaminoglycans by DAPI. We also identified conditions under which DAPI that was bound to polyP (but not nucleic acids or other anionic polymers) rapidly photobleached. This allowed us to develop an even more sensitive and specific negative staining method that distinguishes polyP from nucleic acids and glycosaminoglycans. The lower LOD using DAPI negative staining was 4 pmol (0.3 ng) phosphate per band, compared to conventional toluidine blue staining with a lower LOD of 250 pmol per band.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3461-3465
Number of pages5
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Fluorescence
  • PAGE
  • Polyphosphate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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