Andy Maloney
Does anyone here know what the initials "BRB80" stand for? It's a popular buffer and I've been able to glean that the "80" mean "80 mM PIPES". But, I do not know what BRB means.
I know nothing about the buffer, but can confirm that Bill R. Brinkley is a well-known scientist in the fields of mitosis, microtubule organization, etc. (He's also the dean of my graduate school and a great guy). - Chris Miller
That's a great review, Neil! (3 links above...I now have the PDF if anyone wants it). It doesn't mention BRB80 in the review, but does talk about "reassembly buffer" and cites earlier work (including his own) going back to the early 70's. I'm going to check out a couple. - Steve Koch
Andy, you'll like this quote from a Borisy and Olmsted 1972 Science paper (PMID: 5057625 I think it's the origin of the EGTA in the buffer (Also I notice the MgSO4): "Because of the apparent stimulatory ef-fects of GTP and Mg2+ ions, and the inhibitory effects of Ca2+ ions on microtubule assembly (4), the homogenizing solution was subsequently modified to 0.1M PIPES buffer, pH 6.5, containing 1 mM EGTA [ethylenebis- (oxyethylenenitrilo)tetraacetate], 0.5 mM MgSO4, and 1 mM GTP (PMEG solution)." - Steve Koch
So far I haven't seen any named buffers, except for Borisy using PME (which Cytoskeleton calls PEM--PIPES, EGTA, Mg) and PMEG (GTP). - Steve Koch
The earliest google scholar hit for (BRB80 OR "BRB 80") is in 1987: The paper is by Gard and Kirschner (PMID: 3680377 and at the bottom of the first page, they give definitions. Ironically, they say, "BRB, reassembly buffer; ..." THEY DON'T define the first B! - Steve Koch
In 1988, Kellogg, Mitchison, and Alberts use the term BRB80 in their paper (PMID: 3248521 ), but they do not define it. Interestingly, they also appear not to cite a single paper by Borisy or Brinkley. - Steve Koch
The quoted phrase, "Brinkley Reassembly Buffer" only gets two Google scholar hits and none on Pub Med. In a 1997 Science paper, Dogterom and Yurke define it but do not cite the origin (PMID: 9346483). In a book in 1997, Avila, Brandt, and Kosik define the term on page 261 but do not give a citation. - Steve Koch
From what I can tell, "Brinkley Reassembly Buffer" is a backronym that is not cited. The term "reassembly buffer" is used well back into the early 1970's or maybe even earlier. Both Brinkley and Borisy and many others use that term. At some point, the term "BRB" and "BRB80" appear without explanation, and I think it is reasonable that people assumed the B stood for Brinkley. However, it appears justifiable that it could be "Borisy Reassmbly Buffer" as well. The 1975 Olmsted and Borisy paper is a very detailed optimization of the PIPES buffer for tubulin polymerization (PMID: 238580). Whereas a McGill and Brinkley paper in 1975 is still using an MES buffer. (PMID: 809450) - Steve Koch
OK, well, does anyone care besides me and Andy? :) I actually learned a lot with this hour or two of reading old literature. A great way to learn a lot very quickly and gain a bunch of insight into this very cool tubulin polymerization assay that we're doing. And BTW: we succeeding in making our first batch of fluoresecent microtubules today! - Steve Koch
I'm glad you posted that link, Neil! I agree with you on both (1) and (2). The funny thing is that (2) was very difficult for us to know as "newbies" to the field. I do believe in this case that you need to go back to the 1970's to understand things, and the acronym etymology inspired us to do so. One clear take home message for me is that BRB80 has a lot of legacy issues with it. It works fine and reliably for many things we want to do. But now, knowing a lot more about the history, I can see avenues when it may be necessary to venture away from it. Most importantly, we now know some background so we can have friendly arguments over beer at meetings about the origins of BRB80 :) - Steve Koch
Neil: Sometimes Google doesn't give you want you want. But if you try sometimes, you might get what you need...Sorry. Couldn't help myself. As Koch says, nowhere in the literature is BRB80 defined as a term. This is why I asked the question originally. It's funny that we can't trace its origins but, beer discussions about BRB80 is a great idea. - Andy Maloney
Chris: I was very tempted to contact Dr. Brinkley today. I was just afraid my email would not get any response. Thanks again Neil for pointing out the name. It helped start a really fun historical search! - Andy Maloney