Main content area

Convection-Driven Pull-Down Assays in Nanoliter Droplets Using Scaffolded Aptamers

Qu, Xiangmeng, Zhang, Hongbo, Chen, Hong, Aldalbahi, Ali, Li, Li, Tian, Yang, Weitz, David A., Pei, Hao
Analytical chemistry 2017 v.89 no.6 pp. 3468-3473
DNA, adenosine triphosphate, biomarkers, biosensors, cocaine, droplets, drugs, glass, models, oligonucleotides, thrombin
One of the great challenges in cellular studies is to develop a rapid and biocompatible analytical tool for single-cell analysis. We report a rapid, DNA nanostructure-supported aptamer pull-down (DNaPull) assay under convective flux in a glass capillary for analyzing the contents of droplets with nano- or picoliter volumes. We have demonstrated that the scaffolded aptamer can greatly improve the efficiency of target molecules’ pull down. The convective flux allows complete reaction in <5 min, which is an 18-fold improvement compared to purely diffusive flux (traditional model of the stationary case). This established DNaPull assay can serve as a rapid and sensitive analytical platform for analyzing a variety of bioactive molecules, including small molecules [ATP, limit of detecton (LOD) of 1 μM], a drug (cocaine, LOD of 1 μM), and a biomarker (thrombin, LOD of 0.1 nM). Significantly, the designed microfluidic device compartmentalizes live cells into nanoliter-sized droplets to present single-cell samples. As a proof of concept, we demonstrated that cellular molecules (ATP) from a discrete number of HNE1 cells (zero to five cells) lysed inside nanoliter-sized droplets can be analyzed using our DNaPull assay, in which the intracellular ATP level was estimated to be ∼3.4 mM. Given the rapid assay feature and single-cell sample analysis ability, we believe that our analytical platform of convection-driven DNaPull in a glass capillary can provide a new paradigm in biosensor design and will be valuable for single-cell analysis.