The Thermo Scientific™ Pierce™ Power Stainer (Cat. No. 22833) is an easy-to-use device for rapid electrophoretic Coomassie staining and destaining of protein gels, typically in 6–11 minutes, with staining performance equivalent to or better than traditional solution-based Coomassie staining.

Protein staining is a ubiquitous technique in life science research, and traditional Coomassie staining for polyacrylamide gels requires relatively long incubations in stain and destain solutions. The electrophoretic protein gel staining system (Figure 1) uses an integrated high-current power supply unit and optimized reagents and consumables to enable delivery of sharply stained protein bands with minimal or no background in about 11 minutes.

Figure 1.The Pierce Power Stainer is designed for rapid Coomassie staining of proteins in polyacrylamide gels and removal of unbound stain from the gel (i.e., destaining) in a single process. The power stainer, pictured on the right, consists of the Thermo Scientific™ Pierce™ Power Station and Thermo Scientific™ Pierce™ Power Stain Cassette. The Thermo Scientific™ Pierce™ Mini Gel Power Staining Kit, pictured on the left, consists of stain reagents and gel pads. The Pierce Power Stainer has an easy-to-use color LCD touch screen interface and pre-programmed gel-staining protocols. The touch programming feature allows custom staining settings to be quickly created, saved, and run.

Traditional Coomassie dye staining techniques require a staining step of at least 1 hour (up to overnight) and at least one separate destaining step to achieve desired results. The Pierce Power Stainer, together with the Pierce Mini Gel Power Staining Kit (Cat. No. 22840) or midi gel kit (Cat. No. 22839), provides efficient protein staining and gel destaining in about 11 minutes (Figure 2), enabling results equivalent to or better than conventional Coomassie dye staining techniques (Figure 3).

Figure 2. The Pierce Power Stainer uses an electrophoretic process to reduce Coomassie staining and destaining time for protein gels to about 11 minutes.

Figure 3. Coomassie staining with the Pierce Power Stainer saves time and maintains sensitivity. Three 4–20% Tris-glycine mini gels were loaded and run with samples of purified bovine serum albumin and staining protocols that differ in time. (A) Gel was stained using the Pierce Power Stainer and Pierce Mini Gel Power Staining Kit. (B) Gel was stained using a homebrew Coomassie R-250 staining reagent and protocol. (Stain: 45% methanol, 10% acetic acid, 0.25% Coomassie R-250 dye, Cat. No. 20278. Destain: 30% ethanol, 5% acetic acid.) (C) Another gel was stained with Thermo Scientific™ Imperial™ Protein Stain (Cat. No. 24615) according to the product instructions.

Electrophoretic staining and destaining technology involves mobilizing the negatively charged Coomassie dye toward the positively charged anode through the polyacrylamide gel, during which the dye binds to the embedded proteins.

The Pierce Power Stainer, along with the optimized ionic power stain and destain solutions of the associated power staining kits, fixes protein to the gel and rapidly transports the negatively charged Coomassie R-250 dye through the gel sandwich; the Coomassie dye molecules either bind to protein bands or pass unhindered through the gel matrix (Figure 4). This process results in consistently and sharply stained protein bands and minimal background. The system is effective for use with a variety of protein gel types (Figure 5).


Figure 4. Electrophoretic staining and destaining technology. Electrophoretic staining and destaining is achieved by driving negatively charged Coomassie R-250 dye out of the top staining pad, through the polyacrylamide gel, and toward the positively charged anode.

Figure 5. The Pierce Power Stainer is compatible with multiple gel formulations and types. The performance of the Pierce Power Stainer was tested with different brands of precast gels, including our Invitrogen™ gels (Novex™, NuPAGE™, and Bolt™), two gel types from Bio-Rad Laboratories (Criterion™ Tris-HCl and Mini-PROTEAN™ TGX™ gels), and homemade Tris-glycine gels. Cell lysates, purified proteins, and unstained molecular weight markers were loaded on different mini and midi protein gels and electrophoresed according to the gel suppliers’ recommendations. After electrophoresis, the gels were washed in water one time for 5 minutes (mini gels) or two times for 5 minutes (midi gels) and then stained using the Pierce Power Stainer and Mini Gel Power Staining Kit or Midi-Gel Power Staining Kit for 5–10 minutes. The Pierce Power Stainer is compatible with all the gel formulations tested, and provided excellent protein staining results. Additionally, 1.5 mm thick midi gels (NuPAGE™ and Novex™ Tris-glycine gels) were found to work with the Pierce Power Stainer (some time optimization is required).

Here we have shown that the electrophoretic staining and destaining technology utilized in the Pierce Power Stainer device reduces protein staining time from several hours, using the conventional staining/destaining approach, to only about 11 minutes. This novel yet simple device helps reduce the time researchers need to spend on Coomassie-based protein gel staining, while maintaining high-quality results.

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    The Thermo Scientific™ Pierce™ Power Stainer is designed for rapid Coomassie dye staining of proteins in polyacrylamide gels and removal of unbound stain from the gel in a single step.

    Features of the Pierce Power Stainer:

    • Reliable performance—delivers protein staining results that are equivalent to traditional staining techniques
    • Fast—Coomassie staining and destaining of proteins in about 11 minutes
    • Convenient—simultaneously stains and destains up to 2 mini gels or 1 midi SDS-PAGE gel
    • Easy touch programming—intuitive LCD touch screen interface includes preprogrammed protocols

    Learn more about the Thermo Scientific Pierce Power Stainer

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    For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.