Gelshift™ Chemiluminescent EMSA

non-radioactive EMSA to simplify screening of protein-DNA binding

The Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Assay Kit provides a simple, non-radioactive assay to identify protein-DNA binding with proven reagents. In this electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA), cell extracts or purified factors are incubated with biotin end-labeled probe containing the consensus binding site of interest. Samples in which the protein of interest bound the target DNA will migrate slower than DNA alone resulting in a "shift" of the labeled DNA band. For complete details, click the EMSA Method tab below.

Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Assay Kit

The Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Assay Kit includes all the reagents needed to study protein-DNA binding for your sample system. The kit also includes biotin-labeled and unlabeled control DNA and control nuclear extract. Click the Gel Shift tab below for data and more information; kit manuals can be downloaded under the Documents tab.  

Make your own Gelshift / Supershift Assay using our specialized buffers

For those that wish to make their own Gel shift / Supershift Assay, we offer specialized binding buffers with differing properties to best fit the transcription factor you are interested in. These buffers are not used in the Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Assay Kit.

Name Format Cat No. Price  
Gelshift™ Chemiluminescent EMSA 100 rxns 37341 $565 Buy
Binding Buffer B-1 240 µl 37480 $150 Buy
Binding Buffer B-2 240 µl 37481 $150 Buy
Binding Buffer B-3 240 µl 37482 $150 Buy
Binding Buffer B-4 240 µl 37483 $150 Buy
Binding Buffer C-1 240 µl 37484 $150 Buy
Binding Buffer C-2 240 µl 37485 $150 Buy
Binding Buffer C-3 240 µl 37486 $150 Buy
Dilution Buffer A 240 µl 37487 $150 Buy
Stabilizing Solution D 360 µl 37488 $150 Buy

Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Method

The Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Kit provides a non-radioactive method to detect DNA-protein interactions. In this method, cell extracts or purified factor are incubated with a biotin 3' or 5' end-labeled DNA probe containing the consensus binding site of interest. Samples are then resolved by electrophoresis on a native polyacrylamide gel and transferred to a nylon membrane. The biotin end-labeled DNA probe is detected using streptavidin conjugated to horseradish peroxidase (HRP) and a chemiluminescent substrate. Samples in which the protein of interest bound the target DNA will migrate slower than DNA alone resulting in a "shift" of the labeled DNA band.

Example EMSA Binding Reactions

  1. Biotin-labeled DNA = no shift in the absence of cell extract or purified factor
  2. Biotin-labeled DNA + Extract = DNA shift due to the binding of protein to the labled DNA probe
  3. Biotin-labeled DNA + Extract + Excess Unlabeled DNA = no shift as the excess of unlabeled DNA competes for binding of the target protein in the extract; this reaction verifies the specificity of the protein-DNA interaction

The Gelshift Electrophoretic Mobility Shift EMSA Kit control transcription factor-DNA binding reactions


Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Advantages

  • Non-radioactive assay
  • Better sensitivity than radioactive or digoxigenin methods
  • Fast procedure can be completed in 5 hours
  • Additional reagents supplied to help optimize conditions for your sample system
  • Includes control DNA and extract to help new users understand the methods as they optimize conditions for their sample systems

Gelshift or Electrophoretic Mobility Shift (EMSA) Info

Electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA), also known as gel shifts, gel retardation assays or mobility assays can be used to study DNA-protein interactions1-3. The principle behind EMSA relies on the fact that DNA-protein complexes migrate slower than DNA alone in a native polyacrylamide or agarose gel. This difference in electrophoretic separation of DNA-protein complexes can be visualized as a "shift" in migration of the labeled DNA band. This enables researches to screen different nuclear extracts or gene promoters for specific transcription factor DNA binding activity.

Better sensitivity

The non-radioactive format of the Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Assay Kit does not sacrifice sensitivity when compared to 32P or digoxigenin methods.

Gelshift chemiluminescent EMSA compared with radiolabeled and digoxigenin labeled assay kits


Figure 1: Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Kit provides better sensitivity.

HeLa nuclear extract (6.8 µg) was incubated with 20 fmol Oct-1 duplex DNA labeled for use in either the Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA kit, a digoxigenin-based EMSA or with 32P using T4 polynucleotide kinase (40,000 cpm/reaction) for use in a radioactive EMSA. The kits were used according to the manufacturer's instructions. The radioactive EMSA was exposed directly to X-ray film using screens.

Sensitivity of Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Kit on four different DNA-protein binding complexes


Figure 2: Obtain sensitive results for the DNA-protein complex of interest.

The Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Kit was used to obtain sensitive gel shift results for four different DNA-protein complexes. Biotin-labeled target duplexes were incubated with HeLa nuclear extract (Oct-1, AP1 and NFκB) or the provided Control Nuclear Extract from the kit. Unlabeled competitor sequences were used at 200-fold molar excess over labeled DNA. The Control reactions from the Epstein-Barr Nuclear Antigen (EBNA) system were supplemented with 2.5% glycerol and 0.05% NP-40, while the AP1 reactions were supplemented with 10% glycerol. X-ray film exposure time varied from 2 minutes for the EBNA Control, Oct-1 and AP1 to 5 minutes for NFκB.


1. Fried, M. and Crothers, D.M. (1981) Nucleic Acids Res. 9:  6505-6525.
2. Revzin, A. (1989) BioTechniques 7:  346-354.
3. Hendrickson, W. (1985) BioTechniques 3:  198-207.

Active Motif's Supershift and Gel shift Buffers have been shown to significantly reduce non-specific background. These buffers are available for purchase to save you the time and inconvenience of optimizing buffers for your own experiments.

Binding Buffers B-1 through B-4 are for incubation of the extract:antibody mixture, while Binding Buffers C-1 through C-3 facilitate binding of the labeled probe.

These buffers are not used with the Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA.

Buffer Description
Buffer B-1 Higher pH, poly D(I/C)
Buffer B-2 Neutral pH, poly D(I/C)
Buffer B-3 Neutral pH, poly D(I/C) + detergent
Buffer B-4 Higher pH, Herring Sperm DNA
Buffer C-1 Higher pH, no blocking DNA
Buffer C-2 Neutral pH, no blocking DNA
Buffer C-3 Neutral pH, no blocking DNA, detergent

Contents & Storage

 The Gelshift Chemiluminescent EMSA Kits contain 10X Binding Buffer, Biotin Control DNA, Unlabeled Control DNA, Control Nuclear Extract, Poly d(I-C), 50% Glycerol, 1% NP-40, 1 M KCl, 100 mM MgCl2, 200 mM EDTA pH 8.0 and 5X Loading Buffer, which are all stored at -20°C. Additionally, the kit includes Streptavidin HRP-conjugate, Chemiluminescent Reagent, Reaction Buffer, Blocking Buffer, 4X Wash Buffer and Substrate Equilibration Buffer which should be stored at 4°C.

  • The FACT inhibitor CBL0137 synergizes with cisplatin in small cell lung cancer by increasing NOTCH1 expression and targeting tumor-initiating cells. De, S. et al. 2018. Cancer Res. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-1920.
    Link to Pub Med ID: 29440145