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Rapid isoelectric point determination in a miniaturized preparative separation using jet-dispensed optical pH sensors and micro free-flow electrophoresis

: Herzog, Christin; Beckert, Erik; Nagl, Stefan


Analytical chemistry 86 (2014), No.19, pp.9533-9539
ISSN: 0003-2700
ISSN: 1520-6882
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IOF ()

Herein, the fabrication, characterization, calibration, and application of integrated microfluidic platforms for fast isoelectric point (pI) determinations via free-flow electrophoresis with integrated inkjet-printed fluorescent pH sensor microstructures are presented. These devices allow one to determine the pI of a biomolecule from a sample mixture with moderately good precision and without addition of markers in typically less than 10 s total separation and analysis time. Polyhydroxyethyl methacrylate (pHEMA) hydrogels were covalently coupled with fluorescein and hydroxypyrene trisulfonic acid (HPTS)-based pH probes. These were piezoelectrically jet-dispensed onto acrylate-modified glass as pH sensor microarrays with a diameter of 300–600 µm and thicknesses of 0.4–2.4 µm with high spatial accuracy. Microchip fabrication and integration of these pH sensor arrays was realized by multistep liquid-phase photolithography from oligoethylene glycol precursors resulting in glass-based microfluidic free-flow isoelectric focusing (µFFIEF) chips with integrated pH observation capabilities. The microchips were characterized with regard to pH sensitivity, response times, photo-, and flow stability. Depending on the sensor matrix, they allowed IEF within a pH range of roughly 5.5–10.5 with good sensitivity and fast response times. These microchips were used for FFIEF of small molecule markers and several protein mixtures with simultaneous monitoring of local pH. This allowed the determination of their pI via multispectral imaging of protein and pH sensor fluorescence without addition of external markers. Obtained pI’s were generally in good agreement with known data, demonstrating the applicability of the method for pI determination in micropreparative procedures within a time frame of a few seconds only.