Circumventing air bubbles in microfluidic systems and quantitative continuous-flow PCR applications

Nakayama, Tsuyoshi; Kurosawa, Yasunori; Furui, Satoshi; Kerman, Kagan; Kobayashi, Masaaki; Rao, S. Ramachandra; Yonezawa, Yuji; Nakano, Kouichi; Hino, Akihiro; Yamamura, Shohei; Takamura, Yuzuru; Tamiya, Eiichi
December 2006
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Dec2006, Vol. 386 Issue 5, p1327
Academic Journal
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is an essential part of research based on genomics or cell analysis. The development of a microfluidic device that would be suitable for high-temperature-based reactions therefore becomes an important contribution towards the integration of micro-total analysis systems (μTAS). However, problems associated with the generation of air bubbles in the microchannels before the introduction of the assay liquid, which we call the “initial start-up” in this study, made the flow irregular and unstable. In this report, we have tried to address these problems by adapting a novel liquid-flow method for high-temperature-based reactions. A PDMS-based microfluidic device was fabricated by soft-lithography techniques and placed on a cartridge heater. The generation of the air bubbles was prevented by introducing the fluorinated oil, an inert and highly viscous liquid, as the cap just before the introduction of the sample solutions into the microchannels. The technique was applied for continuous-flow PCR, which could perform PCR on-chip in a microfluidic system. For the evaluation of practical accuracy, plasmid DNA that serves as a reference molecule for the quantification of genetically modified (GM) maize was used as the template DNA for continuous-flow PCR. After PCR, the products were collected in a vial and analyzed by gel electrophoresis to confirm the accuracy of the results. Additionally, quantitative continuous-flow PCR was performed using TaqMan technology on our PCR device. A laser detection system was also used for the quantitative PCR method. We observed a linear relationship between the threshold cycle (Ct) and the initial DNA concentration. These results showed that it would be possible to quantify the initial copies of the template DNA on our microfluidic device. Accurate quantitative DNA analysis in microfluidic systems is required for the integration of PCR with μTAS, thus we anticipate that our device would have promising potential for applications in a wide range of research.


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