DNA ladders can be used to size polyphosphate resolved by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis

Electrophoresis. 2018 Oct;39(19):2454-2459. doi: 10.1002/elps.201800227. Epub 2018 Jul 26.


PAGE is often used to resolve inorganic polyphosphates (polyP), but unfortunately polyP size ladders are not commercially available. Since several dyes that are commonly used to detect nucleic acids in gels also stain polyP, we examined the utility of commercially available DNA size ladders for estimating polyP polymer lengths by gel electrophoresis. Narrow size fractions of polyP were prepared and their polymer lengths were quantified using NMR. Commercially available DNA ladders and these polyP fractions were then subjected to PAGE to determine the relationship between migration of DNA vs polyP, which was found to be: log10 (dsDNA length in bp) = 1.66 × log10 (polyP length in phosphate units) - 1.97. This relationship between DNA and polyP size held for a variety of different polyacrylamide concentrations, indicating that DNA size ladders can readily be employed to estimate polyP polymer lengths by PAGE.

Keywords: DNA ladder; Electrophoresis; PAGE; Polyphosphate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel / methods*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel / standards*
  • Polyphosphates / analysis*
  • Polyphosphates / chemistry*
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Polyphosphates
  • DNA