Efficient sample preparation tools are the key to measuring molecular signals in a complex biological system. A novel continuous-flow isoelectric point (pI)-based sorting technique has been developed for proteins and peptides in a microfluidic chip format. It can sort biomolecules at a relatively high flow rate of up to 10 μL/min and does not require carrier ampholytes, which can create molecular backgrounds for subsequent analysis. Furthermore, the electrophoretic field required to run the pI-based sorting is generated by the diffusion of buffer ions in situ, at the liquid junction between two laminar flows within the microfluidic channel. Utilizing the diffusion potential in combination with a pH difference between the buffers, we demonstrated a separation of binary mixtures of pI markers and proteins without applying any external field. The sorting resolution and its efficiency are sufficiently high for sample preparation and could be further improved by optimizing buffers or with an additional transverse electric field. Once fully developed, it can potentially be a pI-based sample fractionation tool for proteomic analysis of complex biomolecule samples.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry