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Beta-galactosidase, encoded by the lacZ gene in E. coli, can cleave lactose and structurally related compounds to galactose and glucose or structurally related products. Its activity can be measured using an artificial substrate, o-nitrophenyl-beta-D-galactopyranoside (ONPG). Miller firstly described the standard quantitative assay of beta-galactosidase activity in the cells of bacterial cultures by disrupting the cell membrane with the permeabilization solution instead of preparing cell extracts. Therefore, beta-galactosidase became one of the most widely used reporters of gene expression in molecular biology to reflect intracellular gene expression difference. But the Miller assay procedure could not monitor the beta-galactosidase reaction in real time and its results were greatly influenced by some operations in the Miller procedure, such as permeabilization time, reaction time and concentration of the cell suspension. A scanning method based on the Miller method to determine the intracellular beta-galactosidase activity in E. coli Tuner (DE3) expressing -galactosidase in real time was developed and the permeabilization time of cells was optimized for that. The comparison of 3 assays of beta-galactosidase activity (Miller, colorimetric and scanning) was made. The results proved that scanning method for the determination of enzyme activity with using ONPG as substrate is simple, fast and reproducible.


W Li, X Zhao, S Zou, Y Ma, K Zhang, M Zhang. Scanning assay of beta-galactosidase activity. Prikladnaia biokhimiia i mikrobiologiia. 2012 Nov-Dec;48(6):668-72

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PMID: 23330395

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