The SDS-PAGE Hall of Shame

For the uninitiated .. SDS-PAGE is a method that biochemists use to separate mixtures of proteins (and sometimes other biomolecules, like short pieces of DNA). It’s a really useful technique, and most of the time it works perfectly, giving a nice little ‘ladder’ of bands with large proteins at the top and the smallest ones at the bottom.

Occasionally, something goes wrong … enter the SDS-PAGE “Hall of Shame”.

This is a hilarious gallery of botched SDS-PAGE gels, which doubles as a useful trouble-shooting guide.

Over the years, despite trying my best to avoid it, I’ve occasionally run gels which have suffered from most of these problems. This one resembles the gel I ran yesterday … I was in a hurry and turned the voltage up too high. Normally I’d get away with it, but this time the cooling wasn’t adequate enough. It doesn’t pay to rush these things.

(For the non-scientists: SDS-PAGE is an acronym for for sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis … sorry you asked ?)

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