High-resolution computer simulation of the dynamics of isoelectric focusing using carrier ampholytes: focusing with concurrent electrophoretic mobilization is an isotachophoretic process

Electrophoresis. 2006 Mar;27(5-6):968-83. doi: 10.1002/elps.200500575.


Focusing of four hemoglobins with concurrent electrophoretic mobilization was studied by computer simulation. A dynamic electrophoresis simulator was first used to provide a detailed description of focusing in a 100-carrier component, pH 6-8 gradient using phosphoric acid as anolyte and NaOH as catholyte. These results are compared to an identical simulation except that the catholyte contained both NaOH and NaCl. A stationary, steady-state distribution of carrier components and hemoglobins is produced in the first configuration. In the second, the chloride ion migrates into and through the separation space. It is shown that even under these conditions of chloride ion flux a pH gradient forms. All amphoteric species acquire a slight positive charge upon focusing and the whole pattern is mobilized towards the cathode. The cathodic gradient end is stable whereas the anodic end is gradually degrading due to the continuous accumulation of chloride. The data illustrate that the mobilization is a cationic isotachophoretic process with the sodium ion being the leading cation. The peak height of the hemoglobin zones decreases somewhat upon mobilization, but the zones retain a relatively sharp profile, thus facilitating detection. The electropherograms that would be produced by whole column imaging and by a single detector placed at different locations along the focusing column are presented and show that focusing can be commenced with NaCl present in the catholyte at the beginning of the experiment. However, this may require detector placement on the cathodic side of the catholyte/sample mixture interface.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ampholyte Mixtures
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electrophoresis / methods
  • Electrophoresis / statistics & numerical data
  • Hemoglobins / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Isoelectric Focusing / methods*
  • Isoelectric Focusing / statistics & numerical data
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Phosphoric Acids
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Sodium Hydroxide


  • Ampholyte Mixtures
  • Hemoglobins
  • Phosphoric Acids
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Sodium Hydroxide
  • phosphoric acid