Separation of molecules based on their mobility in an electric field. High resolution techniques normally use a gel support for the fluid phase. Examples of gels used are starch, acrylamide, agarose or mixtures of acrylamide and agarose. Frictional resistance produced by the support causes size, rather than charge alone, to become the major determinant of separation. The electrolyte may be continuous (a single buffer), or discontinuous, where a sample is stacked by means of a buffer discontinuity, before it enters the running gel/running buffer. The gel may be a single concentration or gradient in which pore size decreases with migration distance. In SDS gel electrophoresis of proteins or electrophoresis of polynucleotides, mobility depends primarily on size and is used to determined molecular weight. In pulse-field electrophoresis, two fields are applied alternately at right-angles to each other to minimize diffusion-mediated spread of large linear polymers. See also electrofocusing, pulse-field electrophoresis
Dictionary of molecular biology. 2004.