Real-time PCR microfluidic devices with concurrent electrochemical detection

Teh Huey Fang, Naveen Ramalingam, Dong Xian-Dui, Tan Swee Ngin, Zeng Xianting, Annie Tan Lai Kuan, Eric Yap Peng Huat, Gong Hai-Qing
Biosensors & Bioelectronics 2009 March 15, 24 (7): 2131-6
Electrochemistry-based detection methods hold great potential towards development of hand-held nucleic-acid analyses instruments. In this work, we demonstrate the implementation of in situ electrochemical (EC) detection method in a microfluidic flow-through EC-qPCR (FTEC-qPCR) device, where both the amplification of the target nucleic-acid sequence and subsequent EC detection of the PCR amplicon are realized simultaneously at selected PCR cycles in the same device. The FTEC-qPCR device utilizes methylene blue (MB), an electroactive DNA intercalator, for electrochemical signal measurements in the presence of PCR reagent components. Our EC detection method is advantageous, when compared to other existing EC methods for PCR amplicon analysis, since FTEC-qPCR does not require probe-modified electrodes, or asymmetric PCR, or solid-phase PCR. Key technical issues related to surface passivation, electrochemical measurement, PCR inhibition by metal electrode, bubble-free PCR, were investigated. By controlling the concentration of MB and the exposure of PCR mixture to the bare metal electrode, we successfully demonstrated electrochemical measurement of MB in solution-phase, symmetric PCR by amplifying a fragment of lambda phage DNA. The threshold cycle (C(t)) values for both the electrochemical and fluorescence-based assays decreased linearly with the increase of the input target quantity. The sensitivity of EC-based detection of PCR products is comparable to the sensitivity of an optical fluorescence detection system.

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