Gel electrophoresis and subsequent imaging using phosphorimagers is one of the most important and widely used techniques in RNA and DNA analysis. Radiolabeling nucleic acids with 32P and detecting bands using a phoshorimager are useful both in a qualitative sense for nucleic acid detection and in a quantitative sense for structural, kinetic, or binding-based assays. Because of this, good resolution of gel bands based on molecular weight and size of RNA or DNA is essential for analysis. The appearance of blurry gel bands of 32P-labeled RNA and DNA thus represents a serious problem in the laboratory. A quick search on the Internet uncovers numerous reports begrudging the appearance of blurry bands, as well as attempts to fix them without success. Indeed, our laboratories were beset by the intermittent problem of blurry gels for over one year before we found a solution. Herein we describe a simple and cost-effective solution to a problem that we show originates from the phosphorimager cassettes rather than the integrity of the gel itself. We hope that the information provided here will lead to immediate help for other laboratories experiencing similar issues with labeled nucleic acid gel-based assays. The improvement in the clarity of the gels is nothing short of astonishing in many instances and will lead to higher resolution images for analysis and publications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology