APPENDIX 4G Southern Blotting
Published Online: 1 MAY 2001
Copyright © 2003 by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Lab Protocol Title
Current Protocols in Protein Science
How to Cite
Brown, T. 2001. Southern Blotting. Current Protocols in Protein Science. 13:4G:A.4G.1–A.4G.8.
- Published Online: 1 MAY 2001
- Published Print: SEP 1998
Southern blotting is the transfer of DNA fragments from an electrophoresis gel to a membrane support (the properties and advantages of the different types of membrane, transfer buffer, and transfer method are discussed in detail), resulting in immobilization of the DNA fragments, so the membrane carries a semipermanent reproduction of the banding pattern of the gel. After immobilization, the DNA can be subjected to hybridization analysis, enabling bands with sequence similarity to a labeled probe to be identified. This appendix describes Southern blotting via upward capillary transfer of DNA from an agarose gel onto a nylon or nitrocellulose membrane, using a high-salt transfer buffer to promote binding of DNA to the membrane. With the high-salt buffer, the DNA becomes bound to the membrane during transfer but not permanently immobilized. Immobilization is achieved by UV irradiation (for nylon) or baking (for nitrocellulose). A Support Protocol describes how to calibrate a UV transilluminator for optimal UV irradiation of a nylon membrane. An alternate protocol details transfer using nylon membranes and an alkaline buffer, and is primarily used with positively charged nylon membranes. The advantage of this combination is that no post-transfer immobilization step is required, as the positively charged membrane binds DNA irreversibly under alkaline transfer conditions. The method can also be used with neutral nylon membranes but less DNA will be retained. A second alternate protocol describes a transfer method based on a different transfer-stack setup. The traditional method of upward capillary transfer of DNA from gel to membrane described in the first basic and alternate protocols has certain disadvantages, notably the fact that the gel can become crushed by the weighted filter papers and paper towels that are laid on top of it. This slows down the blotting process and may reduce the amount of DNA that can be transferred. The downward capillary method described in the second alternate protocol is therefore more rapid than the basic protocol and can result in more complete transfer. Although the ease and reliability of capillary transfer methods makes this far and away the most popular system for Southern blotting with agarose gels, it unfortunately does not work with polyacrylamide gels, whose smaller pore size impedes the transverse movement of the DNA molecules. The third alternate protocol describes an electroblotting procedure that is currently the most reliable method for transfer of DNA from a polyacrylamide gel. Dot and slot blotting are also described.