July 7, 2010

Microstructuring of polymer films for sensitive genotyping by real-time PCR on a centrifugal microfluidic platform

Maximilian Focke, Fabian Stumpf, Bernd Faltin, Patrick Reith, Dylan Bamarni, Simon Wadle, Claas Müller, Holger Reinecke, Jacques Schrenzel, Patrice Francois, Daniel Mark, Günter Roth, Roland Zengerle and Felix von Stetten

First published: 07 July 2010


We present a novel process flow enabling prototyping of microfluidic cartridges made out of polymer films. Its high performance is proven by implementation of a microfluidic genotyping assay testing 22 DNA samples including clinical isolates from patients infected by methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The microfluidic cartridges (disks) are fabricated by a novel process called microthermoforming by soft lithography (µTSL). Positive moulds are applied allowing for higher moulding precision and very easy demoulding when compared to conventional microthermoforming. High replication accuracies with geometric disk-to-disk variations of less than 1% are typical. We describe and characterise fabrication and application of microfluidic cartridges with wall thicknesses <188 µm thus enabling efficient thermocycling during real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The microfluidic cartridges are designed for operation in a slightly modified commercial thermocycling instrument. This approach demonstrates new opportunities for both microfluidic developments and well-established laboratory instruments. The microfluidic protocol is controlled by centrifugal forces and divides the liquid sample parallely into independent aliquots of 9.8 µl (CV 3.4%, N = 32 wells). The genotyping assays are performed with pre-stored primers and probes for real-time PCR showing a limit of detection well below 10 copies of DNA per reaction well (N = 24 wells in 3 independent disks). The system was evaluated by 44 genotyping assays comprising 22 DNA samples plus duplicates in a total of 11 disks. The samples contained clinical samples of seven different genotypes of MRSA as well as positive and negative controls. The results are in excellent agreement with the reference in microtubes.