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Biomicrofluidics. 2013 Jul 29;7(4):44107. doi: 10.1063/1.4816943. eCollection 2013.

Microfluidic platform for isolating nucleic acid targets using sequence specific hybridization.

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  • 1Center for Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Division of Biology and Medicine, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.
  • 2Department of Physics, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


The separation of target nucleic acid sequences from biological samples has emerged as a significant process in today's diagnostics and detection strategies. In addition to the possible clinical applications, the fundamental understanding of target and sequence specific hybridization on surface modified magnetic beads is of high value. In this paper, we describe a novel microfluidic platform that utilizes a mobile magnetic field in static microfluidic channels, where single stranded DNA (ssDNA) molecules are isolated via nucleic acid hybridization. We first established efficient isolation of biotinylated capture probe (BP) using streptavidin-coated magnetic beads. Subsequently, we investigated the hybridization of target ssDNA with BP bound to beads and explained these hybridization kinetics using a dual-species kinetic model. The number of hybridized target ssDNA molecules was determined to be about 6.5 times less than that of BP on the bead surface, due to steric hindrance effects. The hybridization of target ssDNA with non-complementary BP bound to bead was also examined, and non-specific hybridization was found to be insignificant. Finally, we demonstrated highly efficient capture and isolation of target ssDNA in the presence of non-target ssDNA, where as low as 1% target ssDNA can be detected from mixture. The microfluidic method described in this paper is significantly relevant and is broadly applicable, especially towards point-of-care biological diagnostic platforms that require binding and separation of known target biomolecules, such as RNA, ssDNA, or protein.

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