So you’ve isolated your protein, ran them on a gel and now you’re ready to transfer them to a membrane to begin western blotting. Sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Don’t forget to equilibrate your gel prior to beginning your transfer. Gel equilibration generally involves rinsing the gel in diH2O and soaking it in transfer buffer for approximately 15 min. While it may sound simple, (and it truly is), it is a step that might make the difference between an ugly blot and one that is publication worthy.
Below are some points to consider about gel equilibration:
- Gel equilibration removes contaminating electrophoresis buffer salts. If not removed, these salts increase the conductivity of the transfer buffer and the amount of heat generated during transfer.
- Equilibration also allows the gel to adjust to its final size prior to electrophoretic transfer. Gels shrink or swell to various degrees in the transfer buffer depending on the acrylamide percentage and the buffer composition.
- Equilibration is not necessary (i) when the same buffer is used for both electrophoresis and transfer (for example, native gel transfers), or (ii) when using rapid semi-dry transfer systems such as the Trans-Blot® Turbo™ system (consult the user manual for the system you are using).