Enabling Technologies for Synthetic Biology: Gene Synthesis and Error-Correction from a Microarray-Microfluidic Integrated Device
Promising applications in the design of various biological systems hold critical implications as heralded in the rising field of synthetic biology. But, to achieve these goals, the ability to synthesize in situ DNA constructs of any size or sequence rapidly, accurately and economically is crucial. Today, the process of DNA oligonucleotide synthesis has been automated but the overall development of gene and genome synthesis technology has far lagged behind that of gene and genome sequencing. This has meant that numerous ideas go unfulfilled due to scale, cost and impediments in the quality of DNA due to synthesis errors.
This thesis presents the development of a multi-tool ensemble platform targeted at gene synthesis. An inkjet oligonucleotide synthesizer is constructed to synthesize DNA microarrays onto silica functionalized cylic olefin copolymer substrates. The arrays are married to microfluidic wells that provide a chamber to for enzymatic amplification and assembly of the DNA from the microarrays into a larger construct. Harvested product is then amplified off-chip and error corrected using a mismatch endonuclease-based reaction. This platform has the potential to be particularly low-cost since it employs standard phosphoramidite reagents and parts that are cheaper than optical and electrochemical systems. Genes sized 160 bp to 993 bp were successfully harvested and, after error correction, achieved up to 94% of intended functionality.
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