The effects on DNA migration of altering parameters in the comet assay protocol such as agarose density, electrophoresis conditions and durations of the enzyme or the alkaline treatments.
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AbstractThe single cell gel electrophoresis (comet assay) is a popular method for measuring DNA migration as an estimate of DNA damage. No standardised comet assay protocol exists, which make comparisons between studies complicated. In a previous inter-laboratory validation study of the comet assay, we identified important parameters in the protocol that might affect DNA migration. The aim of this study was to assess how different comet assay protocols affect DNA migration. The results in this study suggest that (i) there is a significant linear dose-response relationship between the agarose gel's density and DNA migration and that damaged cells are more sensitive to the agarose gel's density; (ii) incubation with formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase for 10 min is inadequate, whereas 30 min is sufficient; (iii) the typically used 20 min of alkaline treatment might be to short when analysing samples that contain particular alkali-labile sites (ALS) and (iv) the duration of electrophoresis as well as the strength of the electric field applied affects the DNA migration. By using protocol-specific calibration curves, it is possible to reduce the variation in DNA migration caused by differences in comet assay protocols. This does, however, not completely remove the impact of the durations of alkaline treatment and electrophoresis when analysing cells containing ALS that are relatively resistant to high alkaline treatment.
CitationMutagenesis 2011, 26 (6):689-695
SponsorsThe authors are members of ECVAG which was created within the ECNIS network of excellence in order to validate the comet assay.
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