When SDS-PAGE Goes Bad

by on 30th of September, 2008 in Protein Analysis, Detection & Assay

With all of our recent talk about how SDS-PAGE works and how to improve your gels, I wouldn't want to give the impression that running protein gels is easy or foolproof.

On the contrary, just like everything else in research, SDS-PAGE can go wrong in a multitude of ways. And if you took a peek inside some of my old lab books you would have all of the proof you need about how easily this technique can make you look like a fool.

But luckily, I don't have to air any dirty laundry in public to show you, because someone else has done something similar already.

As part of a lab guide for an experimental biology course at Rice University, David R. Caprette has pulled together an "SDS-PAGE Hall of Shame". It's made up of photos of gels produced by course students, as well as some from the university's research labs, that have gone horribly wrong for all manner of reasons.

As well as providing entertainment for ghoulish (science geek) onlookers, the gallery is, of course for educational purposes. It is intended as a troubleshooting resource; by clicking on the picture that looks most like your poor, messed up gel you will be given a pearl of wisdom that suggests what you might have done wrong so you can remedy it in the future.

But perhaps the best things about it is that in an uncertain world, it shows that everyone else has protein gel disasters too. And most of us can probably take comfort from that.

About the author: Nick Oswald
I started Bitesize Bio on a Macbook on my kitchen table in 2007 while in my 7th year of working as a molecular biologist in biotech. My aim was to share the know-how that I had acquired from the school of hard-knocks in the lab, so that others could learn from my mistakes and small victories. Nowadays my mission is to facilitate the gathering of hardcore know-how from whole spectrum of bioscientists and share it here on Bitesize Bio to create a super-mentor that any bioscientist can turn to for much-needed guidance.

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One thought on “When SDS-PAGE Goes Bad”

  1. John Hansen says:

    Was there ever a discussion/"awards" for the best pre-cast SDS PAGE gels?..if so, I would appreciate the link. Cheers.

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