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Southern Blotting: Gel Transfer

   Copyright 2004 by Alberts, Bray, Johnson, Lewis, Raff, Roberts, Walter.
Garland Publishing: Taylor Francis Group.

Southern Blotting: Gel Transfer, Part 1
Southern Blotting: Gel Transfer, Part 2

Gel-transfer hybridization—or Southern blotting—is used to detect specific DNA fragments. (A) The mixture of double-stranded DNA fragments generated by restriction nuclease treatment of DNA is separated according to length by electrophoresis. (B) A sheet of either nitrocellulose paper or nylon paper is laid over the gel, and the separated DNA fragments are transferred to the sheet by blotting. The gel is supported on a layer of sponge in a bath of alkali solution, and the buffer is sucked through the gel and the nitrocellulose paper by paper towels stacked on top of the nitrocellulose. As the buffer is sucked through, it denatures the DNA and transfers the single-stranded fragments from the gel to the surface of the nitrocellulose sheet, where they adhere firmly. This transfer is necessary to keep the DNA firmly in place while the hybridization procedure (D) is carried out. (C) The nitrocellulose sheet is carefully peeled off the gel. (D) The sheet containing the bound single-stranded DNA fragments is placed in a sealed plastic bag together with buffer containing a radioactively labeled DNA probe specific for the required DNA sequence. The sheet is exposed for a prolonged period to the probe under conditions favoring hybridization. (E) The sheet is removed from the bag and washed thoroughly, so that only probe molecules that have hybridized to the DNA on the paper remain attached. After autoradiography, the DNA that has hybridized to the labeled probe will show up as bands on the autoradiograph. An adaptation of this technique to detect specific sequences in RNA is called Northern blotting. In this case mRNA molecules are electrophoresed through the gel and the probe is usually a single-stranded DNA molecule.  Fair Use and Copyright info

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