Microfluidics for Genetic and Epigenetic Analysis

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Virginia Tech


Microfluidics has revolutionized how molecular biology studies are conducted. It permits profiling of genomic and epigenomic features for a wide range of applications. Microfluidics has been proven to be highly complementary to NGS technology with its unique capabilities for handling small volumes of samples and providing platforms for automation, integration, and multiplexing. In this thesis, we focus on three projects (diffusion-based PCR, MID-RRBS, and SurfaceChIP-seq), which improved the sensitivities of conventional assays by coupling with microfluidic technology. MID-RRBS and SurfaceChIP-seq projects were designed to profiling genome-wide DNA methylation and histone modifications, respectively. These assays dramatically improved the sensitivities of conventional approaches over 1000 times without compromising genomic coverages. We applied these assays to examine the neuronal/glial nuclei isolated from mouse brain tissues. We successfully identified the distinctive epigenomic signatures from neurons and glia. Another focus of this thesis is applying electrical field to investigate the intracellular contents. We report two projects, drug delivery to encapsulated bacteria and mRNA extraction under ultra-high electrical field intensity. We envision rapid growth in these directions, driven by the needs for testing scarce primary cells samples from patients in the context of precision medicine.



microfluidics, single cell polymerase chain reaction, chromatin immunoprecipitation, bisulfite sequencing, next generation sequencing, cell electroporation, electrolysis