Carbon-14 isotope used in translocation

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Carbon-14 isotope used in translocation

Post by nigel123 » Fri May 04, 2007 4:07 pm

hi i have a question :

What are the advantages of using 14C as an isotope in translocation experiments? What are the advantages / usefulness of other carbon isotopes?

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Post by blcr11 » Fri May 04, 2007 7:09 pm

These are off the cuff.

1. It’s radioactive (C-12 , C-13, and C-15 are not), which makes it easier to follow with fairly simple equipment..
2. It’s mass difference makes it useful for following metabolites by mass spectroscopy; the same applies to C-13 or C-15 as differentiable from the naturally abundant C-12.
3. It’s an istotope if carbon, which makes it useful for studying carbon-based metabolism.
4. Even though it’s radioactive, the emissions are not very penetrating (compared to P-32, for example), so in some sense it is “safer” to work with (but see below).

1. Unlike C-13 or C-15, C-14 is not nmr-active, so you loose potential structural information.
2. The energy of the radiation is low—which contributes to it’s non-penetration—but at the same time, that makes it more difficult to detect. You have to use a scintillation counter of some sort; P-32, by contrast, is easy to detect with a simple geiger counter.
3. Because it is hard to detect contamination by C-14 (you have to do wipe tests and throw the wipes into a liquid scintillation counter), coupled with its long half-life (~5700 yrs) there is a definite safety issue with C-14 entering low-turnover environments such as the spinal chord or brain tissue.

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