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Methods Mol Biol. 2012;869:1-21. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-821-4_1.

How it all began: a personal history of gel electrophoresis.

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University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


Arne Tiselius' moving boundary electrophoresis method was still in general use in 1951 when this personal history begins, although zonal electrophoresis with a variety of supporting media (e.g., filter paper or starch grains) was beginning to replace it. This chapter is an account of 10 years of experiments carried out by the author during which molecular sieving gel electrophoresis was developed and common genetic variants of two proteins, haptoglobin and transferrin, were discovered in normal individuals. Most of the figures are images of pages from the author's laboratory notebooks, which are still available, so that some of the excitement of the time and the humorous moments are perhaps apparent. Alkaline gels, acidic gels with and without denaturants, vertical gels, two-dimensional gels, and gels with differences in starch concentration are presented. The subtle details that can be discerned in these various gels played an indispensable role in determining the nature of the change in the haptoglobin gene (Hp) that leads to the polymeric series characteristic of Hp ( 2 ) /Hp ( 2 ) homozygotes. Where possible, the names of scientific friends who made this saga of gel electrophoresis so memorable and enjoyable are gratefully included.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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