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Volume 7, Issue 4, July 2013
Microfluidic systems have shown unequivocal performance improvements over conventional bench-top assays across a range of performance metrics. For example, specific advances have been made in reagent consumption, throughput, integration of multiple assay steps, assay automation, and multiplexing capability. For heterogeneous systems, controlled immobilization of reactants is essential for reliable, sensitive detection of analytes. In most cases, protein immobilization densities are maximized, while native activity and conformation are maintained. Immobilization methods and chemistries vary significantly depending on immobilization surface, protein properties, and specific assay goals. In this review, we present trade-offs considerations for common immobilization surface materials. We overview immobilization methods and chemistries, and discuss studies exemplar of key approaches—here with a specific emphasis on immunoassays and enzymatic reactors. Recent “smart immobilization” methods including the use of light, electrochemical, thermal, and chemical stimuli to attach and detach proteins on demand with precise spatial control are highlighted. Spatially encoded protein immobilization using DNA hybridization for multiplexed assays and reversible protein immobilization surfaces for repeatable assay are introduced as immobilization methods. We also describe multifunctional surface coatings that can perform tasks that were, until recently, relegated to multiple functional coatings. We consider the microfluidics literature from 1997 to present and close with a perspective on future approaches to protein immobilization.
7(2013); http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4816835View Description Hide Description
This short review provides an overview of the impact micro- and nanotechnologies can make in studying epigenetic structures. The importance of mapping histone modifications on chromatin prompts us to highlight the complexities and challenges associated with histone mapping, as compared to DNA sequencing. First, the histone code comprised over 30 variations, compared to 4 nucleotides for DNA. Second, whereas DNA can be amplified using polymerase chain reaction, chromatin cannot be amplified, creating challenges in obtaining sufficient material for analysis. Third, while every person has only a single genome, there exist multiple epigenomes in cells of different types and origins. Finally, we summarize existing technologies for performing these types of analyses. Although there are still relatively few examples of micro- and nanofluidic technologies for chromatin analysis, the unique advantages of using such technologies to address inherent challenges in epigenetic studies, such as limited sample material, complex readouts, and the need for high-content screens, make this an area of significant growth and opportunity.