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Cell-free protein expression in a microchannel array with passive pumping

, : Cell-free protein expression in a microchannel array with passive pumping. Lab on A Chip 9(1): 56-61

We report in vitro (cell-free) protein expression in a microfluidic device using passive pumping. The polystyrene device contains 192 microchannels, each of which is connected to two wells positioned in a 384-well microplate format. A larger droplet of an expression solution was placed at one well of each channel while a smaller droplet of a nutrient solution was at the other well. Protein expression took place in the larger droplet and we found the expression yield in the expression solution is enhanced due to the replenishment of the nutrient solution supplied by passive pumping via the channel. The pumping pressure was generated from the difference in the surface tension between two different sized droplets at the two wells. We demonstrated expression of luciferase in the device and the expression yield was measured using luminescence assay. Different experimental conditions were investigated to achieve maximum protein yield with the least amount of reagents. Protein expression yields were found to be dependent on the amount of the nutrient solution pumped, independent of the amount of the expression solution within the experimental conditions studied. A higher feeding frequency or delivery rate of the nutrient solution resulted in higher protein expression yield. The work demonstrated the feasibility of using the microchannel array for protein expression with the following advantages: (1) simultaneous production of the same protein with different conditions to optimize the expression process; (2) simultaneous production of different proteins for high-throughput protein expression with high yield; (3) low reagent cost due to the fact that it consumes 125-800 times less than the amount used in a protein expression instrument commercially available.


PMID: 19209336

DOI: 10.1039/b808034h

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