Serial processing of biological reactions using flow-through microfluidic devices: coupled PCR/LDR for the detection of low-abundant DNA point mutations

Masahiko Hashimoto, Francis Barany, Feng Xu, Steven A Soper
Analyst 2007, 132 (9): 913-21
We have fabricated a flow-through biochip consisting of passive elements for the analysis of single base mutations in genomic DNA using polycarbonate (PC) as the substrate. The biochip was configured to carry out two processing steps on the input sample, a primary polymerase chain reaction (PCR) followed by an allele-specific ligation detection reaction (LDR) for scoring the presence of low abundant point mutations in genomic DNA. The operation of the device was demonstrated by detecting single nucleotide polymorphisms in gene fragments (K-ras) that carry high diagnostic value for colorectal cancers. The effect of carryover from the primary PCR on the subsequent LDR was investigated in terms of LDR yield and fidelity. We found that a post-PCR treatment step prior to the LDR phase of the assay was not essential. As a consequence, a thermal cycling microchip was used for a sequential PCR/LDR in a simple continuous-flow format, in which the following three steps were carried out: (1) exponential amplification of the gene fragments from genomic DNA; (2) mixing of the resultant PCR product(s) with an LDR cocktail via a Y-shaped passive micromixer; and (3) ligation of two primers (discriminating primer that carried the complement base to the mutation locus being interrogated and a common primer) only when the particular mutation was present in the genomic DNA. We successfully demonstrated the ability to detect one mutant DNA in 1000 normal sequences with the integrated microfluidic system. The PCR/LDR assay using the microchip performed the entire assay at a relatively fast processing speed: 18.7 min for 30 rounds of PCR, 4.1 min for 13 rounds of LDR (total processing time = ca. 22.8 min) and could screen multiple mutations simultaneously in a multiplexed format. In addition, the low cost of the biochip due to the fact that it was fabricated from polymers using replication technologies and consisted of passive elements makes the platform amenable to clinical diagnostics, where one-time use devices are required to eliminate false positives resulting from carryover contamination.

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