Low-cost two-dimensional gel densitometry

Richard M Levenson, Edward V. Maytin, Donald A. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A major obstacle to full utilization of the powerful technique of two-dimensional (2-D) gel electrophoresis is the expense and complexity of quantifying the results. Using an analog-to-digital converter already present in the widely available Commodore 64 or Commodore 128 microcomputer, we have developed a 2-D gel densitometer (GELSCAN) which adds only $20.00 to the cost of the Commodore system (currently around $700.00). The system is designed to work with autoradiograms of 2-D gels. Spots of interest are identified visually and then positioned manually over a light source. A pinhole photoelectric sensor mounted in a hand-held, Plexiglas holder, or "mouse", is briefly rubbed over each spot. Maximum density of the spot is determined and its value is converted to counts per minute via an internal calibration curve which corrects for the nonlinear response of film to radiation. Local spot backgrounds can be subtracted and values can be normalized between gels to adjust for variation in amount of radioactivity applied or in exposure time. Reproducibility is excellent and the technique has some practical as well as theoretical advantages over other more complicated approaches to 2-D gel densitometry. In addition, the GELSCAN system can also be used for scanning individual bands in 1-D gels, quantitation of "dot-blot" autoradiograms and other tasks involving transmission densitometry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-301
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 1986
Externally publishedYes


  • autoradiography
  • computer methods
  • densitometry
  • isoelectric focusing
  • protein synthesis
  • two-dimensional gel electrophoresis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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