Bubble-free electrode actuation for micro-preparative scale electrophoresis of RNA
A microfluidic chip is presented for lysis and one-step RNA purification from bacteria. Bacteria are lysed by joule-heating followed by a gel electrophoresis step for clean-up and subsequent elution of small RNA. Bubble formation during electrophoresis at constant current is suppressed through the use of a silver chloride cathode and a silver anode. To prevent silver chloride sediment in the bulk solution, the anode was immersed in a saturated chloride solution. Salt bridges in the form of polyacrylamide gels are used that could be precisely patterned with the help of phaseguides. Bubble-free actuation could be performed for more than 20 min under a constant current. For longer actuation times, cathodic silver-chloride became depleted and a silver-chloride sediment formed in the anodic microchamber at increasing distance from the anode with time. The chip functioning was verified by extraction of transfer-messenger RNA from Escherichia coli and subsequent amplification using reverse transcription real-time PCR. Incorporation of salt bridges enables effective bubble free actuation of Ag/AgCl electrodes in a microfluidic chip. This opens up new possibilities in a surge towards fully integrated diagnostic cartridges that are miniaturized and disposable.