Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Hundreds of Biochemical Analyses on a Single Device

Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Scientists at EPFL and the University of Geneva have developed a microfluidic device smaller than a domino that can simultaneously measure up to 768 biomolecular interactions.

Inside our cells, molecules are constantly binding and separating from one another. It’s this game of constant flux that drives gene expression asides essentially every other biological process.

Understanding the specific details of how these interactions take place is thus crucial to our overall understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of living organisms. There are millions of possible combinations of molecules, however; determining all of them would be a Herculean task. Various tools have been developed to measure the degree of affinity between a strand of DNA and its transcription factor. They provide an indication of the strength of the affinity between them.

“Commercial” devices, however, have one main drawback: many preliminary manipulations are necessary before an experiment can be carried out, and even then, the experiment can only focus on a dozen interactions at a time.

Microns-wide channels

As part of his doctoral research at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Sebastian Maerkl designed a device that he named “MITOMI” – a small device containing hundreds of microfluidic channels equipped with pneumatic valves. This week Maerkl, who is now an assistant professor in EPFL’s Bioengineering Institute, is publishing an article describing the next step in the evolution of the device in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The new version, “k-MITOMI,” was developed in the context of the SystemsX.ch RTD DynamiX in cooperation with the University of Geneva.

This microfluidic device has 768 chambers, each one with a valve that allows DNA and transcription factors to interact in a very carefully controlled manner. “In traditional methods, we generally manage to determine if an interaction takes place or not, and then we restart the experiment with another gene or another transcription factor,” Maerkl explains. “Our device goes much further, because it allows us to measure the affinity and kinetics of the interaction.”

The strength of the device lies in a sort of “push-button” in its microreactors. A protein substrate is immobilized on the device; above it circulates a solution containing DNA moelcules. The push-button is activated at regular intervals of a few milliseconds, trapping protein-DNA complexes that form on the surface of the device. “Then we close the lid, and fluorescence reveals the exact number of bound molecules,” explains Maerkl. “We can also observe how long these molecules remain bound.”

In addition to providing quantitative kinetic information, the k-MITOMI device can work in a “massively parallel” manner. Each of the 768 independent chambers can simultaneously analyze different molecule pairs. It can also be used to synthesize proteins in vitro, with a massive reduction in time and number of manipulations compared to the traditional method, which involves producing proteins inside a living organism such as a bacterium, purifying, and putting them in contact with the genes to be studied.

“The number of protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions that remain to be characterized is phenomenal. Our device not only allows us to accelerate the acquisition of this information, which is crucial to our understanding of living organisms, but it also meets a need for the production of specific proteins,” adds Maerkl.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Comparing The Genomes Of The Leprosy Bacteria
EPFL scientists have compared for the first time the genomes of the two bacteria species that cause leprosy. The study shows how the two species evolved from a common ancestor 13.9 million years ago, and offers new insights into their biology that could lead to new treatments.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Graphene Nanoribbons for “Reading” DNA
One of the methods used for examining the molecules in a liquid consists in passing the fluid through a nano-sized hole so as to detect their passage.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
In Cancer, an Embryonic Mechanism Gone Awry
Many types of cancer could originate from a mechanism that cells use to silence genes.
Monday, October 08, 2012
Scientific News
RNAi Screening Trends
Understand current trends and learn which application areas are expected to gain in popularity over the next few years.
New Weapon in the Fight Against Blood Cancer
This strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
Toxin from Salmonid Fish has Potential to Treat Cancer
Researchers from the University of Freiburg decode molecular mechanism of fish pathogen.
Study Finds Non-Genetic Cancer Mechanism
Cancer can be caused solely by protein imbalances within cells, a study of ovarian cancer has found.
Scientists Create CRISPR/Cas9 Knock-In Mutations in Human T Cells
In a project spearheaded by investigators at UC San Francisco, scientists have devised a new strategy to precisely modify human T cells using the genome-editing system known as CRISPR/Cas9.
Tracking Breast Cancer Before it Grows
A team of scientists led by University of Saskatchewan researcher Saroj Kumar is using cutting-edge Canadian Light Source techniques to screen and treat breast cancer at its earliest changes.
DNA Damage Seen in Patients Undergoing CT Scanning
Along with the burgeoning use of advanced medical imaging tests over the past decade have come rising public health concerns about possible links between low-dose radiation and cancer.
The Mystery of the Instant Noodle Chromosomes
Researchers from the Lomonosov Moscow State University evaluated the benefits of placing the DNA on the principle of spaghetti.
Oxitec ‘Self-Limiting Gene’ Offers Hope for Controlling Invasive Moth
A new pesticide-free and environmentally-friendly way to control insect pests has moved ahead with the publication of results showing that Oxitec diamondback moths (DBM) with a ‘self-limiting gene’ can dramatically reduce populations of DBM.
Web App Helps Researchers Explore Cancer Genetics
Brown University computer scientists have developed a new interactive tool to help researchers and clinicians explore the genetic underpinnings of cancer.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!