Separation of large DNA molecules by contour-clamped homogeneous electric fields

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Science  19 Dec 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4783, pp. 1582-1585
DOI: 10.1126/science.3538420


Electric fields can be manipulated by a method in which multiple electrodes are arranged along a closed contour and clamped to predetermined electric potentials. This method may be applied to a broad range of problems in the separation of macromolecules by gel electrophoresis. DNA molecules as large as 2 megabases can be well separated with a contour-clamped homogeneous electric field alternating between two orientations 120 degrees apart. The pattern of separation is independent of position in the gel, which is an advantage over previous methods. DNA less than 50 kilobases can be separated without distortion even at high voltage with a nonalternating contour-clamped homogeneous field. Decreased band broadening in DNA less than 200 bases can be achieved with a contour-clamped inhomogeneous field.