Semi-Dry Protein Transfer Explained

In semi-dry systems, the distance between the electrodes is limited only by the thickness of the gel and membrane sandwich. As a result, high electric field strengths and high-intensity blotting conditions are achieved. Under semi-dry conditions, some small proteins may be driven throughout the membrane in response to the high field strengths. Moreover, because low buffer capacity limits run times, some large proteins may be poorly transferred. Use of a discontinuous buffer system may enhance semi-dry transfer of high molecular weight proteins (>80 kD). As semi-dry transfers require considerably less buffer and are easier to set up than the tank method, laboratories performing large numbers of blots often favour them.

Novel buffer and material formulations have been developed that can be used with higher electric field strengths than those used in typical semi-dry blotting. These conditions yield complete and extremely rapid transfer, with some systems completing transfer in 3 – 10 min. Such rapid blotting systems do not incorporate external cooling mechanisms, so the high power dissipation may generate more heat than other techniques. Rapid blotting systems are intended for extremely rapid transfers where heat-induced protein denaturation will not affect downstream applications.

The Trans-Blot Turbo system performs semi-dry transfers in as little as 3 min. The system uses prepackaged transfer packs containing a prewet membrane (nitrocellulose or polyvinylidene difluoride:PVDF) and filter paper stacks soaked with a proprietary buffer that allows this fast and efficient transfer. The base unit contains an integrated power supply that drives two independent transfer cassettes, allowing transfer of a total of four mini-format or two midi-format gels. As the transfer cassette electrodes are made with robust permanent stainless-steel and platinum-coated titanium, the Trans-Blot Turbo system also has the flexibility to run traditional semi-dry protocols with hand-made buffers and any membrane, as any semi-dry system.

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