Integrated microfluidic systems for DNA analysis

Samuel K Njoroge, Hui-Wen Chen, Małgorzata A Witek, Steven A Soper
Topics in Current Chemistry 2011, 304: 203-60
The potential utility of genome-related research in terms of evolving basic discoveries in biology has generated widespread use of DNA diagnostics and DNA forensics and driven the accelerated development of fully integrated microfluidic systems for genome processing. To produce a microsystem with favorable performance characteristics for genetic-based analyses, several key operational elements must be strategically chosen, including device substrate material, temperature control, fluidic control, and reaction product readout. As a matter of definition, a microdevice is a chip that performs a single processing step, for example microchip electrophoresis. Several microdevices can be integrated to a single wafer, or combined on a control board as separate devices to form a microsystem. A microsystem is defined as a chip composed of at least two microdevices. Among the many documented analytical microdevices, those focused on the ability to perform the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) have been reported extensively due to the importance of this processing step in most genetic-based assays. Other microdevices that have been detailed in the literature include those for solid-phase extractions, microchip electrophoresis, and devices composed of DNA microarrays used for interrogating DNA primary structure. Great progress has also been made in the areas of chip fabrication, bonding and sealing to enclose fluidic networks, evaluation of different chip substrate materials, surface chemistries, and the architecture of reaction conduits for basic processing steps such as mixing. Other important elements that have been developed to realize functional systems include miniaturized readout formats comprising optical or electrochemical transduction and interconnect technologies. These discoveries have led to the development of fully autonomous and functional integrated systems for genome processing that can supply "sample in/answer out" capabilities. In this chapter, we focus on microfluidic systems that are composed of two or more microdevices directed toward DNA analyses. Our discussions will primarily be focused on the integration of various processing steps with microcapillary electrophoresis (μCE) or microarrays. The advantages afforded by fully integrated microfluidic systems to enable challenging applications, such as single-copy DNA sequencing, single-cell gene expression analysis, pathogen detection, and forensic DNA analysis in formats that provide high throughput and point-of-analysis capabilities will be discussed as well.

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