Polyacrylamide gels are commonly used in the analysis and separation of
DNA by gel electrophoresis. In some protocols, once a sample of DNA
undergoes gel electrophoresis, the DNA sample is recovered from the gel.
A common method of doing this is to soak pieces of gel in buffer and wait
for the DNA to diffuse out of the gel. This can take many hours or even
days for DNA strands longer than 500 base pairs. It would be extremely
useful to incorporate a chemically triggerable release mechanism into the
polyacrylamide gel that would allow a researcher to decompose the gel
network at will and recover the embedded DNA more quickly.
We have developed a bis(acrylamide) crosslinker that contains a
chemically cleavable group. Polyacrylamide gels made with this
crosslinker (“EG2”) decompose quickly when exposed to a DNAcompatible
reductants. In principle, due to the shortened time span, less
stable nucleic acids such as RNA might be recovered with a reduced
amount of decomposition of the actual RNA sample.