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A method for separating nucleic acid or protein molecules according to their molecular size. The molecules migrate through the inert gel matrix under the influence of an electric field. In the case of protein PAGE, detergents such as sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) are often added to ensure that all molecules have a uniform charge. Secondary structure can often lead to the anomalous migration of molecules. Therefore it is common to denature protein samples by boiling them prior to PAGE. In the case of nucleic acids, denaturing agents such as formamide, urea or methyl mercuric hydroxide are often incorporated into the gel itself, which may also be run at high temperature. PAGE is used to separate the products of DNA-sequencing reactions and the gels employed are highly denaturing, since molecules differing in size by a single nucleotide must be resolved.
Publication Source: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Publication Date: 1999
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