Nucleic acid extraction is a necessary step for most genomic/transcriptomic analyses, but it often requires complicated mechanisms to be integrated into a lab-on-a-chip device. Here, we present a simple, effective configuration for rapidly obtaining purified RNA from low concentration cell medium. This Total RNA Extraction Droplet Array (TREDA) utilizes an array of surface-adhering droplets to facilitate the transportation of magnetic purification beads seamlessly through individual buffer solutions without solid structures. The fabrication of TREDA chips is rapid and does not require a microfabrication facility or expertise. The process takes less than 5 minutes. When purifying mRNA from bulk marine diatom samples, its repeatability and extraction efficiency are comparable to conventional tube-based operations. We demonstrate that TREDA can extract the total mRNA of about 10 marine diatom cells, indicating that the sensitivity of TREDA approaches single-digit cell numbers.
Shi, Xu, Chun-Hong Chen, Weimin Gao, Shih-hui Chao, Deirdre R. Meldrum