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Electrophoresis

Related Terms

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Background

  • Electrophoresis is a technique used in genetic testing to analyze and separate proteins, DNA, and RNA. Proteins are fundamental components of all living cells and include many substances, such as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies, which are necessary for the proper functioning of an organism. Proteins are made up of amino acids that are arranged and created by the cell according to their specific DNA or RNA sequence. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a long, double-stranded, thread-like molecule made up of large numbers of nucleotides. Nucleotides in DNA are composed of a nitrogen-containing base (base pair), a 5-carbon sugar (deoxyribose), and phosphate groups. Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymeric constituent of all living cells and many viruses consisting of a long, usually single-stranded chain of nucleotides. RNA usually has a much shorter nucleoside chain than DNA.
  • Electrophoresis uses an electrical current to separate the molecules by electrical charge. There are two types of electrophoresis: gel and capillary. Gel electrophoresis separates the molecules by molecular weight and charge, whereas capillary only separates molecules by charge. The focus of this monograph will be primarily on gel electrophoresis, which is more widely used in research.
  • Gel electrophoresis uses different types of gel mediums that vary by the molecule being analyzed, as well as the desired level of resolution. Agarose and polyacrylamide gel are the most commonly used mediums for protein, DNA, and RNA separation.
  • Agarose is a complex sugar molecule derived from seaweed and is commonly used to analyze nucleic acids (DNA and RNA).
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Methods

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Research

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Implications

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Limitations

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.