How many copies of a protein need to be present in a cell in order for it to be visible as a band on an SDS gel? Assume that you can load 100 μg of cell extract onto a gel and that you can detect 10 ng in a single band in the gel. The concentration of protein in cells is about 200 mg/mL, and a typical mammalian cell has a volume of about 1000 μm3 and a typical bacterium a volume of about 1 μm3. Given these parameters, calculate the number of copies of a 120-kd protein that would need to be present in a mammalian cell and in a bacterium in order to give a detectable band on a gel. You might try an order-of-magnitude guess before you make the calculations.
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