JOURNAL ARTICLE

Droplet-based microfluidic flow injection system with large-scale concentration gradient by a single nanoliter-scale injection for enzyme inhibition assay

Long-Fei Cai, Ying Zhu, Guan-Sheng Du, Qun Fang
Analytical Chemistry 2012 January 3, 84 (1): 446-52
22128774
We described a microfluidic chip-based system capable of generating droplet array with a large scale concentration gradient by coupling flow injection gradient technique with droplet-based microfluidics. Multiple modules including sample injection, sample dispersion, gradient generation, droplet formation, mixing of sample and reagents, and online reaction within the droplets were integrated into the microchip. In the system, nanoliter-scale sample solution was automatically injected into the chip under valveless flow injection analysis mode. The sample zone was first dispersed in the microchannel to form a concentration gradient along the axial direction of the microchannel and then segmented into a linear array of droplets by immiscible oil phase. With the segmentation and protection of the oil phase, the concentration gradient profile of the sample was preserved in the droplet array with high fidelity. With a single injection of 16 nL of sample solution, an array of droplets with concentration gradient spanning 3-4 orders of magnitude could be generated. The present system was applied in the enzyme inhibition assay of β-galactosidase to preliminarily demonstrate its potential in high throughput drug screening. With a single injection of 16 nL of inhibitor solution, more than 240 in-droplet enzyme inhibition reactions with different inhibitor concentrations could be performed with an analysis time of 2.5 min. Compared with multiwell plate-based screening systems, the inhibitor consumption was reduced 1000-fold.

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