Nanoliter-scale protein crystallization and screening with a microfluidic droplet robot.
ABSTRACT: Large-scale screening of hundreds or even thousands of crystallization conditions while with low sample consumption is in urgent need, in current structural biology research. Here we describe a fully-automated droplet robot for nanoliter-scale crystallization screening that combines the advantages of both automated robotics technique for protein crystallization screening and the droplet-based microfluidic technique. A semi-contact dispensing method was developed to achieve flexible, programmable and reliable liquid-handling operations for nanoliter-scale protein crystallization experiments. We applied the droplet robot in large-scale screening of crystallization conditions of five soluble proteins and one membrane protein with 35-96 different crystallization conditions, study of volume effects on protein crystallization, and determination of phase diagrams of two proteins. The volume for each droplet reactor is only ca. 4-8?nL. The protein consumption significantly reduces 50-500 fold compared with current crystallization stations.
Project description:This paper describes a microfluidic approach to perform multiplexed nanoliter-scale experiments by combining a sample with multiple different reagents, each at multiple mixing ratios. This approach employs a user-loaded, equipment-free SlipChip. The mixing ratios, characterized by diluting a fluorescent dye, could be controlled by the volume of each of the combined wells. The SlipChip design was validated on an approximately 12 nL scale by screening the conditions for crystallization of glutaryl-CoA dehydrogenase from Burkholderia pseudomallei against 48 different reagents; each reagent was tested at 11 different mixing ratios, for a total of 528 crystallization trials. The total consumption of the protein sample was approximately 10 microL. Conditions for crystallization were successfully identified. The crystallization experiments were successfully scaled up in well plates using the conditions identified in the SlipChip. Crystals were characterized by X-ray diffraction and provided a protein structure in a different space group and at a higher resolution than the structure obtained by conventional methods. In this work, this user-loaded SlipChip has been shown to reliably handle fluids of diverse physicochemical properties, such as viscosities and surface tensions. Quantitative measurements of fluorescent intensities and high-resolution imaging were straighforward to perform in these glass SlipChips. Surface chemistry was controlled using fluorinated lubricating fluid, analogous to the fluorinated carrier fluid used in plug-based crystallization. Thus, we expect this approach to be valuable in a number of areas beyond protein crystallization, especially those areas where droplet-based microfluidic systems have demonstrated successes, including measurements of enzyme kinetics and blood coagulation, cell-based assays, and chemical reactions.
Project description:Combinatorial drug treatment strategies perturb biological networks synergistically to achieve therapeutic effects and represent major opportunities to develop advanced treatments across a variety of human disease areas. However, the discovery of new combinatorial treatments is challenged by the sheer scale of combinatorial chemical space. Here, we report a high-throughput system for nanoliter-scale phenotypic screening that formulates a chemical library in nanoliter droplet emulsions and automates the construction of chemical combinations en masse using parallel droplet processing. We applied this system to predict synergy between more than 4,000 investigational and approved drugs and a panel of 10 antibiotics against Escherichia coli, a model gram-negative pathogen. We found a range of drugs not previously indicated for infectious disease that synergize with antibiotics. Our validated hits include drugs that synergize with the antibiotics vancomycin, erythromycin, and novobiocin, which are used against gram-positive bacteria but are not effective by themselves to resolve gram-negative infections.
Project description:The ability to miniaturize biochemical assays in water-in-oil emulsion droplets allows a massive scale-down of reaction volumes, so that high-throughput experimentation can be performed more economically and more efficiently. Generating such droplets in compartment-on-demand (COD) platforms is the basis for rapid, automated screening of chemical and biological libraries with minimal volume consumption. Herein, we describe the implementation of such a COD platform to perform high precision nanoliter assays. The coupling of a COD platform to a droplet absorbance detection set-up results in a fully automated analytical system. Michaelis-Menten parameters of 4-nitrophenyl glucopyranoside hydrolysis by sweet almond ?-glucosidase can be generated based on 24 time-courses taken at different substrate concentrations with a total volume consumption of only 1.4 ?L. Importantly, kinetic parameters can be derived in a fully unsupervised manner within 20 min: droplet production (5 min), initial reading of the droplet sequence (5 min), and droplet fusion to initiate the reaction and read-out over time (10 min). Similarly, the inhibition of the enzymatic reaction by conduritol B epoxide and 1-deoxynojirimycin was measured, and Ki values were determined. In both cases, the kinetic parameters obtained in droplets were identical within error to values obtained in titer plates, despite a >10(4)-fold volume reduction, from micro- to nanoliters.
Project description:High-throughput screening and optimization experiments are critical to a number of fields, including chemistry and structural and molecular biology. The separation of these two steps may introduce false negatives and a time delay between initial screening and subsequent optimization. Although a hybrid method combining both steps may address these problems, miniaturization is required to minimize sample consumption. This article reports a "hybrid" droplet-based microfluidic approach that combines the steps of screening and optimization into one simple experiment and uses nanoliter-sized plugs to minimize sample consumption. Many distinct reagents were sequentially introduced as approximately 140-nl plugs into a microfluidic device and combined with a substrate and a diluting buffer. Tests were conducted in approximately 10-nl plugs containing different concentrations of a reagent. Methods were developed to form plugs of controlled concentrations, index concentrations, and incubate thousands of plugs inexpensively and without evaporation. To validate the hybrid method and demonstrate its applicability to challenging problems, crystallization of model membrane proteins and handling of solutions of detergents and viscous precipitants were demonstrated. By using 10 microl of protein solution, approximately 1,300 crystallization trials were set up within 20 min by one researcher. This method was compatible with growth, manipulation, and extraction of high-quality crystals of membrane proteins, demonstrated by obtaining high-resolution diffraction images and solving a crystal structure. This robust method requires inexpensive equipment and supplies, should be especially suitable for use in individual laboratories, and could find applications in a number of areas that require chemical, biochemical, and biological screening and optimization.
Project description:In this paper, we developed a novel approach for interfacing a microfluidic two-dimensional droplet array to a high-speed capillary electrophoresis (HSCE) system. Picoliter-scale sample injection (ca. 200?pL) from a nanoliter-scale droplet array covered by nonvolatile oil was automatically achieved using the spontaneous injection mode, without the interference from the cover oil and the need of special droplet extraction interface as in previously reported systems. The system was applied in consecutive separations of 25 different samples of amino acids with a whole separation time less than 15?min, as well as on-line monitoring of in-droplet derivatizing reaction of amino acids by fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) over 3?hours. High separation speed (up to 100 samples per hour) and high separation efficiency (up to 9.22?×?10(5)?N/m) were achieved.
Project description:Antibiotic resistance is a major global health concern that requires action across all sectors of society. In particular, to allow conservative and effective use of antibiotics clinical settings require better diagnostic tools that provide rapid determination of antimicrobial susceptibility. We present a method for rapid and scalable antimicrobial susceptibility testing using stationary nanoliter droplet arrays that is capable of delivering results in approximately half the time of conventional methods, allowing its results to be used the same working day. In addition, we present an algorithm for automated data analysis and a multiplexing system promoting practicality and translatability for clinical settings. We test the efficacy of our approach on numerous clinical isolates and demonstrate a 2-d reduction in diagnostic time when testing bacteria isolated directly from urine samples.
Project description:Microfluidic systems have been regarded as a potential platform for high-throughput screening technology in drug discovery due to their low sample consumption, high integration, and easy operation. The handling of small-volume liquid is an essential operation in microfluidic systems, especially in investigating large-scale combination conditions. Here, we develop a nanoliter centrifugal liquid dispenser (NanoCLD) coupled with superhydrophobic microwell array chips for high-throughput cell-based assays in the nanoliter scale. The NanoCLD consists of a plastic stock block with an array of drilled through holes, a reagent microwell array chip (reagent chip), and an alignment bottom assembled together in a fixture. A simple centrifugation at 800 rpm can dispense ~160 nL reagents into microwells in 5 min. The dispensed reagents are then delivered to cells by sandwiching the reagent chip upside down with another microwell array chip (cell chip) on which cells are cultured. A gradient of doxorubicin is then dispensed to the cell chip using the NanoCLD for validating the feasibility of performing drug tests on our microchip platform. This novel nanoliter-volume liquid dispensing method is simple, easy to operate, and especially suitable for repeatedly dispensing many different reagents simultaneously to microwells.
Project description:Producing robust and scalable fluid metering in a microfluidic device is a challenging problem. We developed a scheme for metering fluids on the picoliter scale that is scalable to highly integrated parallel architectures and is independent of the properties of the working fluid. We demonstrated the power of this method by fabricating and testing a microfluidic chip for rapid screening of protein crystallization conditions, a major hurdle in structural biology efforts. The chip has 480 active valves and performs 144 parallel reactions, each of which uses only 10 nl of protein sample. The properties of microfluidic mixing allow an efficient kinetic trajectory for crystallization, and the microfluidic device outperforms conventional techniques by detecting more crystallization conditions while using 2 orders of magnitude less protein sample. We demonstrate that diffraction-quality crystals may be grown and harvested from such nanoliter-volume reactions.
Project description:The relevance of coupling droplet-based Photonic Lab-on-a-Chip (PhLoC) platforms and Small-Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS) technique is here highlighted for the performance of high throughput investigations, related to the study of protein macromolecular interactions. With this configuration, minute amounts of sample are required to obtain reliable statistical data. The PhLoC platforms presented in this work are designed to allow and control an effective mixing of precise amounts of proteins, crystallization reagents and buffer in nanoliter volumes, and the subsequent generation of nanodroplets by means of a two-phase flow. Spectrophotometric sensing permits a fine control on droplet generation frequency and stability as well as on concentration conditions, and finally the droplet flow is synchronized to perform synchrotron radiation SAXS measurements in individual droplets (each one acting as an isolated microreactor) to probe protein interactions. With this configuration, droplet physic-chemical conditions can be reproducibly and finely tuned, and monitored without cross-contamination, allowing for the screening of a substantial number of saturation conditions with a small amount of biological material. The setup was tested and validated using lysozyme as a model of study. By means of SAXS experiments, the proteins gyration radius and structure envelope were calculated as a function of protein concentration. The obtained values were found to be in good agreement with previously reported data, but with a dramatic reduction of sample volume requirements compared to studies reported in the literature.
Project description:We reduced the reaction volume in microfabricated suspended-membrane titration calorimeters to nanoliter droplets and improved the sensitivities to below a nanowatt with time constants of around 100 ms. The device performance was characterized using exothermic acid-base neutralizations and a detailed numerical model. The finite element based numerical model allowed us to determine the sensitivities within 1% and the temporal dynamics of the temperature rise in neutralization reactions as a function of droplet size. The model was used to determine the optimum calorimeter design (membrane size and thickness, junction area, and thermopile thickness) and sensitivities for sample volumes of 1 nL for silicon nitride and polymer membranes. We obtained a maximum sensitivity of 153 pW/(Hz)(1/2) for a 1 ?m SiN membrane and 79 pW/(Hz)(1/2) for a 1 ?m polymer membrane. The time constant of the calorimeter system was determined experimentally using a pulsed laser to increase the temperature of nanoliter sample volumes. For a 2.5 nanoliter sample volume, we experimentally determined a noise equivalent power of 500 pW/(Hz)(1/2) and a 1/e time constant of 110 ms for a modified commercially available infrared sensor with a thin-film thermopile. Furthermore, we demonstrated detection of 1.4 nJ reaction energies from injection of 25 pL of 1 mM HCl into a 2.5 nL droplet of 1 mM NaOH.