SDS-PAGE: Separating proteins by molecular weight

Time to complete course: 32 min.

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About SDS-PAGE: Separating proteins by molecular weight Virtual Lab Simulation

SDS-PAGE creates conditions for separating proteins by an identifying characteristic, molecular weight. In this simulation, you will learn how SDS, the acrylamide gel, buffer solutions, and the electric current work together to separate proteins.

Running an SDS-PAGE

In this lab, students will determine if a particular sized protein is present in their samples. To do this, they must learn about the mechanisms of how SDS-PAGE works including deciding on which gel size to use, how the sample buffer prepares the sample, how to assemble the electrophoresis chamber, and ultimately the interactions between pH, the buffer solutions, and the electric current.

Mechanisms behind SDS-PAGE

In order to determine if the sample contains a protein of a specific molecular weight, students first need to select the right acrylamide gel concentration. This simulation allows them to trial different concentrations to see the effect on protein separation. From here, they prepare the sample through visualizing the effects of each component of the sample buffer on the sample itself. They will then run an SDS-PAGE by assembling the electrophoresis chamber and learning how the current and ions of the buffer solutions interact. With the results of the SDS-PAGE being ready immediately, students will determine which samples contain the target protein. 

Gel Review

With SDS-PAGE thoroughly explored, students will evaluate their stained gel to identify if the samples have evidence of the target protein. They will also evaluate other gels as usable or unusable and identify reasons that may have caused the outcome. 

By understanding SDS-PAGE, will you find the target protein and be able to identify a successful gel?  

Get Started Now

Investigate each step of SDS-PAGE from gel selection and sample preparation to chamber assembly and what really happens when the current turns on, to separate proteins solely by molecular weight, bringing us one step closer to identifying the protein.

Techniques in Lab

  • Gel electrophoresis

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the mechanisms behind how SDS-PAGE works
  • Understand the role of each component in the sample buffer 
  • Analyze finished gels for usability and troubleshooting

Simulation Features

Length – 32 minutes
Accessibility mode – Available
Languages – English

Examples of Related Standards


Early Stage Bachelors Level
Intermediate Stage Bachelors Level
Late Stage Bachelors Level
EHEA First Cycle
US College Year 1
US College Year 2
US College Year 3
US College Year 4


Biology 2.4


Biology Unit 1.3: Introduction to Biological Macromolecules

Screenshots of SDS-PAGE: Separating proteins by molecular weight Virtual Lab Simulation


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