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Anal Biochem. 1991 May 1;194(2):284-94.

A laser densitometer for selective spot analysis on dot blots and two-dimensional gel autoradiograms.

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  • 1Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.


We describe an inexpensive densitometer, employing a small HeNe laser and an IBM-compatible personal computer that performs accurate measurements of selected spots on two-dimensional gel autoradiograms or chromatograms with an accuracy and a sensitivity equal or superior to those of many commercial instruments. Our open-table design allows the operator to visually monitor the scanning process in room lighting, and provides great flexibility in both the size and the nature of items to be scanned. The instrument has two moving parts (a prism and a small motor). A commercially available software package (ASYST) acquires digital data, graphs the data on the TV monitor, converts the data to optical density or to radioactive incorporation (cpm), subtracts background, integrates peak areas, and stores data on disk. The total time for these operations is 20-30 s per spot. The instrument has a dynamic range of 0.25 to 3.0 OD units and can measure a 10,000-fold range of 14C or 35S isotope concentrations on autoradiograms. The complete device can be assembled with a hobbyist's knowledge of electronics, moderate programming abilities (no machine language required), and a cost of less than $3000, not including the IBM PC.

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