Gel electrophoresis is a widely used technique in life science laboratories to separate macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins. In this technique, molecules are separated according to size and electrical charge.
How does electrophoresis work?
The gel used in gel electrophoresis is generally made from a material called agarose, which is a gelatinous substance extracted from seaweed. This porous gel could be used to separate macromolecules of many different sizes. The gel is immersed in a buffer solution of the salt in an electrophoresis chamber. Tris-borate-EDTA (TBE) is commonly used as the buffer. Its main function is to control the pH of the system. The chamber has two electrodes – one positive and one negative – at its two ends.
The samples that need to be analyzed are then loaded into tiny wells on the gel with the help of a pipette. Once the load is ready, an electric current of 50-150 V is applied. Now, the charged molecules present in the sample begin to migrate through the gel towards the electrodes.
The speed at which each molecule travels through the gel is called its electrophoretic mobility and is primarily determined by its net charge and size. Strongly charged molecules move faster than weakly charged ones.
Once the separation is complete, the gel is stained with a dye to reveal the bands from the separation. Ethidium Bromide is a fluorescent dye commonly used in gel electrophoresis. The gel is soaked in a dilute ethidium bromide solution and then placed in an ultraviolet transilluminator to visualize the separation bands. The bands are immediately examined or photographed for future reference, as they will diffuse into the gel over time.
Gel documentation systems
You should bear in mind that gel electrophoresis is one of the main tools in molecular, cellular and biochemical biology laboratories. In fact, it remains one of the main endorsements and trials requested when publishing important results. For this reason, researchers require high-resolution systems and multiple image recognition systems to process the gels. From this point of view, the processing of the gels requires the highest sensitivity to ensure the quality of the results.
Currently, digital development allows to have image analyzers or gel documentation systems, specifically designed to adapt to the needs and budget of the laboratory. These provide innovative solutions for both image capture and analysis, and are configured based on the techniques used by each researcher.
At Kalstein we introduce you to our gel documentation system whose compact and user-friendly design allows you to easily capture the gel image in high quality. These are systems that have an intuitive user interface, are capable of rapid image capture and auto exposure, and are equipped with an exceptional high-resolution camera. Images are easily saved, thanks to its software. It has an excellent transilluminator and a blue LED filter that allows the recovery of nucleic acids directly from the gel, without damaging them, unlike the old systems. Therefore, we invite you to take a look at the Products menu.