Organelles commonly are separated by capillary electrophoresis (CE) with laser-induced-fluorescence detection. Usually, it is assumed that peaks observed in the CE originate from single organelles, with negligible occurrence of peak overlap. Under this assumption, migration-time and mobility distributions are obtained by partitioning the CE into different regions and counting the number of observed peaks in each region. In this paper, criteria based on statistical-overlap theory (SOT) are developed to test the assumption of negligible peak overlap and to predict conditions for its validity. For regions of the CE having constant peak density, the numbers of peaks (i.e., intensity profiles of single organelles) and observed peaks (i.e., maxima) are modeled by probability distributions. For minor peak overlap, the distributions partially merge, and their mergence is described by an analogy to the Type-II error of hypothesis testing. Criteria are developed for the amount of peak overlap, at which the number of observed peaks has an 85% or 90% probability of lying within the 95% confidence interval of the number of peaks of single organelles. For this or smaller amounts of peak overlap, the number of observed peaks is a good approximation to the number of peaks. A simple procedure is developed for evaluating peak overlap, requiring determination of only the peak standard deviation, the duration of the region occupied by peaks, and the number of observed peaks in the region. The procedure can be applied independently to each region of the partitioned CE. The procedure is applied to a mitochondrial CE.
- Mobility distribution
- Peak overlap