Gel electrophoresis refers to the process by which macromolecules are separated and analyzed. These macromolecules are DNA, RNA, and proteins. The analysis process is usually dependent on the macromolecules’ size and charge. Gel electrophoresis mainly finds application in clinical chemistry. However, with the advancement in technology, gel electrophoresis is now being applied in other fields, as this article discusses.
Uses of Gel Electrophoresis
The following are 10 main uses of gel electrophoresis;
In forensics, gel electrophoresis is usually performed so as to acquire a DNA fragment of the suspect. It helps to determine if the DNA fingerprint piece found at the location of the crime, and the one belonging to the suspect are a match. Simply put, gel electrophoresis helps to catch criminals.
2. Molecular Biology
Gel electrophoresis is a commonly performed procedure in molecular biology. It is used for the separation and organization of DNA, RNA, and proteins, based on their size. The separation makes it easy to study macromolecules at the molecular level.
In genetics, gel electrophoresis is used to display a clear picture of DNA. The procedure is also used for preparing DNA for cloning processes, or for genetic engineering.
Microbiology is all about the study of plants and animals, at their tiniest levels. Gel electrophoresis procedure helps to pull out information about organisms, at their smallest levels. It is, therefore, an important procedure in microbiology. Microbiologists also use gel electrophoresis in the diagnosis of the different varieties of virus strains.
Biochemistry is mostly associated with the study of proteins and nucleic acids. Mapping out of the proteins and nucleic acids can be done using gel electrophoresis.
6. DNA Analysis
Gel electrophoresis is used to identify DNA and its fragments. The gel used in this process is usually agarose gel, or alternatively, acrylamide gel. These gels ‘freeze’ the DNA fragments, such that they are studied well under a high resolution.
7. Behaviors of Proteins and Antibodies
Certain proteins and antibodies behave and interact in unique ways. Their behavior can be analyzed through gel electrophoresis. The specific type of electrophoresis used to examine these behaviors is immuno-electrophoresis.
8. Testing Antibiotics
Gel electrophoresis can be used in the testing of antibiotics. It is used to test how pure the antibiotics are, as well as their concentration. The concentration of antibiotics is essential as it influences how dosages are applied.
9. Testing Vaccines
Creating and producing vaccines involves the gel electrophoresis process. Vaccines work by boosting the immune system to produce antibodies that fight pathogens. Gel electrophoresis is used to detect these antibodies.
10. Checking DNA contamination
Genomic DNA contamination can be identified by carrying out a gel electrophoresis procedure. The gel electrophoresis is done on RNA samples. It can also be used for checking RNA degradation.
Today, when you watch the news and see the news about a criminal brought before the judges, remember that were it not for gel electrophoresis, justice would not have been granted. And, this is just but one of the major benefits that gel electrophoresis has. There are many other benefits of gel electrophoresis, which has helped make our world more peaceful and transparent.