August 7, 2018
Analytical Chemistry

Simple polydisperse droplet emulsion polymerase chain reaction with statistical volumetric correction compared with microfluidic droplet digital polymerase chain reaction

Byrnes, Samantha; Chang, Tim; Huynh, Toan; Astashkina, Anna; Weigl, Bernhard; Nichols, Kevin.

Nucleic acid amplification technology, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), has enabled highly sensitive and specific disease detection and quantification, leading to more accurate diagnosis and treatment regimens. Lab-on-a-chip applications have developed methods to partition single biomolecules, such as DNA and RNA, into picoliter-sized droplets. These individual reaction vessels lead to digitization of PCR enabling improved time to detection and direct quantification of nucleic acids without a standard curve, therefore simplifying assay analysis. Though impactful, these improvements have generally been restricted to centralized laboratories with trained personnel and expensive equipment. To address these limitations and make this technology more applicable for a variety of settings, we have developed a statistical framework to apply to droplet PCR performed in polydisperse droplets prepared without any specialized equipment. The polydisperse droplet system allows for accurate quantification of droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) and reverse transcriptase droplet digital PCR (RT-ddPCR) that is comparable to commercially available systems such as BioRad’s ddPCR. Additionally, this approach is compatible with a range of input sample volumes, extending the assay dynamic range beyond that of commercial ddPCR systems. In this work, we show that these ddPCR assays can reduce overall assay time while still providing quantitative results. We also report a multiplexed ddPCR assay and demonstrate proof-of-concept methods for rapid droplet preparation in multiple samples simultaneously. Our simple polydisperse droplet preparation and statistical framework can be extended to a variety of settings for the quantification of nucleic acids in complex samples.

View Journal