Analysis of single nucleic acid molecules in micro- and nano-fluidics
Nucleic acid analysis has enhanced our understanding of biological processes and disease progression, elucidated the association of genetic variants and disease, and led to the design and implementation of new treatment strategies. These diverse applications require analysis of a variety of characteristics of nucleic acid molecules: size or length, detection or quantification of specific sequences, mapping of the general sequence structure, full sequence identification, analysis of epigenetic modifications, and observation of interactions between nucleic acids and other biomolecules. Strategies that can detect rare or transient species, characterize population distributions, and analyze small sample volumes enable the collection of richer data from biosamples. Platforms that integrate micro- and nano-fluidic operations with high sensitivity single molecule detection facilitate manipulation and detection of individual nucleic acid molecules. In this review, we will highlight important milestones and recent advances in single molecule nucleic acid analysis in micro- and nano-fluidic platforms. We focus on assessment modalities for single nucleic acid molecules and highlight the role of micro- and nano-structures and fluidic manipulation. We will also briefly discuss future directions and the current limitations and obstacles impeding even faster progress toward these goals.