A method has been developed to demonstrate the alpha-acylamido carboxyl groups of protein, taking advantage of the fact that acylamido carboxyl groups are converted to ketonic carbonyls by the action of acetic anhydride and absolute pyridine. The method utilizes deparaffinized sections of tissues fixed in a variety of fixatives. Following the conversion of carboxyls to the methyl ketones, the latter are stained with 2-hydroxy-3-naphthoic acid hydrazide.
Control experiments have indicated that methylation of carboxyls prevented staining, as did carbonyl reagents after the carboxyls were transformed to methyl ketones. Leucofuchsin did not stain the ketonic carbonyls, and only elastic tissue stained with 2-hydroxy-3-naphthoic acid hydrazide without the previous use of the catalyzed reaction with anhydride.
A brief survey of the reaction on various tissues of the albino rat was made, and the effects of various fixatives were assayed. Of particular interest were certain sites, such as acidophiles of the anterior pituitary gland, where an intense reaction occurred. The possibility exists that certain specific proteins rich in terminal acylamido carboxyl groups, by virtue of their protein side chains or low molecular weight, may be demonstrated by this method.