There is a great demand to measure protein-ligand interactions in rapid and low cost way. Here we developed a microfluidic droplet-based thermal shift assay (dTSA) system for high throughput screening of small-molecule protein ligands. The system is composed of a nanoliter droplet array chip, a microfluidic droplet robot, and a real-time fluorescence detection system. Total 324 assays could be performed in parallel in a single chip with an 18 × 18 droplet array. The consumption of dTSA for each protein or ligand sample was only 5 nL (femtomole scale), which is significantly reduced by over 3 orders of magnitude compared with those in 96 or 384-well plate-based systems. We also observed the implementation of TSA in nanoliter droplet format could substantially improve assay precision with relative standard deviation (RSD) of 0.2% (n = 50), which can be ascribed to the enhanced thermal conduction in small volume reactors. The dTSA system was optimized by studying the effect of droplet volumes, as well as protein and fluorescent dye (SYPRO Orange) concentrations. To demonstrate its potential in drug discovery, we applied the dTSA system in screening inhibitors of human thrombin with a commercial library containing 100 different small molecule compounds, and two inhibitors were successfully identified and confirmed.
Wen-Wen Liu, ying zhu, and Qun Fang
Anal. Chem., Just Accepted Manuscript
Publication Date (Web): May 18, 2017
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