By Will Soutter
Scientists have developed a small microfluidic device that can be used for performing hundreds of biochemical analyses. It has the capability of measuring 768 biomolecular interactions.
Sebastian Maerkl at the California Institute of Technology had designed a device which contained hundreds of microfluidic channels with pneumatic valves. It was called as “MITOMI.” Now, a new version, named “k-MITOMI,” has been developed by SystemsX.ch RTD DynamiX and the University of Geneva. SystemsX.ch fosters research and education in critical areas of Systems Biology. DynamiX is a research, technology and development grant from SystemsX.ch.
Molecules within cells are in a constant process of binding and separation. Understanding the process that drives gene expression and the interactions between molecules are important for understanding the basic mechanisms of living organisms. Determining all of the possible molecule combinations, which are in millions, is a formidable task. Tools are used to determine the strength of the affinity between DNA strands and their transcription factor.
The k-MITOMI microfluidic device was developed by scientists at EPFL and the University of Geneva. It contains 768 chambers. Each chamber is equipped with a valve that enables controllable interaction between the DNA and their transcription factor. This device allows measurement of the kinetics and affinity of the interaction.
The microreactors have a push-button which is activated regularly every few milliseconds. In the device, a protein substrate is immobilized, and over it a solution with DNA molecules is circulated. The button activation traps protein-DNA complexes. The device lid is closed and the number of bound molecules and the time they remain bound can be determined through fluorescence.
The 768 independent chambers can be used for simultaneous analysis of different molecule pairs. The device can also be used for synthesizing proteins in vitro.