DNA is the basis of enormous efforts in research and development in pharmaceutical and chemical industries across the country. To assay large numbers of DNA fragments, researchers use DNA microarrays sometimes called biochips or genome chips. Currently, manufacture of these chips is time consuming and expensive.
Glass is the common, inexpensive substrate base for optical detection in DNA microarrays. However, the glass surface is slippery and DNA will not stick in place. Penn State researchers have developed a coating made of molecules with one side that binds to glass and the other side that grabs on to DNA strands to solve this problem.
"The coating is a single molecule thick, about one nanometer," says Dr. Carlo G. Pantano, distinguished professor of materials science and director of Penn State's Materials Research Institute. "The DNA that attaches to this flexible leash is able to act as if it were free floating."
The organic molecules that make up the coating have one end that attaches to the glass and the other end with three functional amine groups where DNA strands can interact and attach. Retention of DNA is more than 50 percent better than found on DNA microarrays using traditional coatings.
Because fluorescent markers are routinely used with DNA microarrays to locate specific DNA fragments that have hybridized, the underlying glass and the coating need to be as non-fluorescent as possible.
Pantano, working with Samuel D. Conzone and Daniel Haines, research scientists at Schott Glass Technologies, and EzzEldin Metwalli, Penn State postdoctoral fellow, chose a variety of glasses, including pure silicon dioxide, Borofloat and flat-panel display glass, to test for self fluorescence of the glass and the coated g
Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer