DNA fragments differing by single base-pair substitutions are separated in denaturing gradient gels: correspondence with melting theory

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1983 Mar;80(6):1579-83. doi: 10.1073/pnas.80.6.1579.


DNA fragments 536 base pairs long differing by single base-pair substitutions were clearly separated in denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Transversions as well as transitions were detected. The correspondence between the gradient gel measurements and the sequence-specific statistical mechanical theory of melting shows that mutations affecting final gradient penetration lie within the first cooperatively melting sequence. Fragments carrying substitutions in domains melting at a higher temperature reach final gel positions indistinguishable from wild type. The gradient data and the sites of substitution bracket the boundary between the first domain and its neighboring higher-melting domain within eight base pairs or fewer, in agreement with the calculated boundary. The correspondence between the gradient displacement of the mutants and the calculated change in helix stability permits substantial inference as to the type of substitution. Excision of the lowest melting domain allows recognition of mutants in the next ranking domain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophage lambda / genetics
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel / methods*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Mutation
  • Nucleic Acid Denaturation*