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Phys Med Biol. 1999 Jun;44(6):1529-41.

A CCD-based system for the detection of DNA in electrophoresis gels by UV absorption.

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1
Joint Department of Physics, Royal Marsden Hospital and Institute of Cancer Reserarch, Sutton, Surrey, UK.

Abstract

A method and apparatus for the detection and quantification of large fragments of unlabelled nucleic acids in agarose gels is presented. The technique is based on ultraviolet (UV) absorption by nucleotides. A deuterium source illuminates individual sample lanes of an electrophoresis gel via an array of optical fibres. As DNA bands pass through the illuminated region of the gel the amount of UV light transmitted is reduced because of absorption by the DNA. During electrophoresis the regions of DNA are detected on-line using a UV-sensitive charge coupled device (CCD). As the absorption coefficient is proportional to the mass of DNA the technique is inherently quantitative. The mass of DNA in a region of the gel is approximately proportional to the integrated signal in the corresponding section of the CCD image. This system currently has a detection limit of less than 1.25 ng compared with 2-10 ng for the most popular conventional technique, ethidium bromide (EtBr) staining. In addition the DNA sample remains in its native state. The removal of the carcinogenic dye from the detection procedure greatly reduces associated biological hazards.

PMID:
10498521
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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