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Electrophoresis. 1992 Jan-Feb;13(1-2):1-6.

Irreversible trapping of DNA during crossed-field gel electrophoresis.

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Laboratoire de PhysicoChimie, Structurale et Macromoléculaire, ESPCI, Paris, France.


Using an original protocol with a rotating gel electrophoresis apparatus, it is shown that duplex DNA undergoing crossed-field electrophoresis in agarose gets trapped in the gel when the field is increased above a threshold value which decreases with the chain length and depends on the angle between the fields in a non-monotonous manner. This trapping is irreversible, i.e. once trapped at a high field strength, chains are unable to resume their motion when the field is returned to a lower value at which they moved prior to trapping. A model of trapping by "tight knots" is proposed. It predicts a trapping threshold proportional to the inverse square of the electric field, in qualitative agreement with the data. The implications of our results for the separation of large DNA molecules are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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