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Microfluidic Print-to-Synthesis Platform for Efficient Preparation and Screening of Combinatorial Peptide Microarrays

Li, Jiannan, Carney, Randy P., Liu, Ruiwu, Fan, Jinzhen, Zhao, Siwei, Chen, Yan, Lam, Kit S., Pan, Tingrui
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.9 pp. 5833-5840
T-lymphocytes, amino acids, automation, gene overexpression, humans, integrins, microarray technology, polyethylene glycol, rapid methods, screening, synthetic peptides
In this paper, we introduce a novel microfluidic combinatorial synthesis platform, referred to as Microfluidic Print-to-Synthesis (MPS), for custom high-throughput and automated synthesis of a large number of unique peptides in a microarray format. The MPS method utilizes standard Fmoc chemistry to link amino acids on a polyethylene glycol (PEG)-functionalized microdisc array. The resulting peptide microarrays permit rapid screening for interactions with molecular targets or live cells, with low nonspecific binding. Such combinatorial peptide microarrays can be reliably prepared at a spot size of 200 μm with 1 mm center-to-center distance, dimensions that require only minimal reagent consumption (less than 30 nL per spot per coupling reaction). The MPS platform has a scalable design for extended multiplexibility, allowing for 12 different building blocks and coupling reagents to be dispensed in one microfluidic cartridge in the current format, and could be further scaled up. As proof of concept for the MPS platform, we designed and constructed a focused tetrapeptide library featuring 2560 synthetic peptide sequences, capped at the N-terminus with 4-[(N′-2-methylphenyl)ureido]phenylacetic acid. We then used live human T lymphocyte Jurkat cells as a probe to screen the peptide microarrays for their interaction with α4β1 integrin overexpressed and activated on these cells. Unlike the one-bead-one-compound approach that requires subsequent decoding of positive beads, each spot in the MPS array is spatially addressable. Therefore, this platform is an ideal tool for rapid optimization of lead compounds found in nature or discovered from diverse combinatorial libraries, using either biochemical or cell-based assays.