Research Team Develops a New Nanoelectrokinetic Detection of Target Gene

Nanoelectrokinetic Detection
▲ Professor Sung Jae Kim (SNU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering), Director Jin-Soo Kim (Center for Genome Engineering, Institute for Basic Science), Professor Hyomin Lee (Jeju National University, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering), Jihye Choi (Graduate Student of SNU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering), Euihwan Jeong (Graduate Student of SNU Department of Chemistry)

Korean researchers developed a new nanoelectrokinetic detection of target gene.

SNU College of Engineering (Dean Kook Heon Char) announced on 19th that the joint research team consisting of Professor Sung Jae Kim’s research team from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Director Jin-Soo Kim’s research team from the Center for Genome Engineering of the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), and Professor Hyomin Lee’s research team from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering of the Jeju National University has developed a new detection technology that easily detects targeted genes.

This technology applies the ion concentration phenomenon, a nanoelectrokinetic phenomenon, as a new detection mechanism to use the CRISPR/dCas9 proteins for easy detection of targeted DNA molecules.

Currently, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the most widely-used genetic diagnostic technique, is criticized for its systematic error of diagnosing genes through cloning and its relatively high cost. These limitations served as hindrances to disease diagnosis and monitoring using genetic information.

Hence, the joint research team first expressed the separation and concentration method, based on ion concentration phenomenon occurring in the vicinity of nanoporous membranes inside the microchannel, into equations. Then, they observed that the electrical mobility slowed down when CRISPR/dCas9 protein, which captures specific genes, combine with the DNA sample to make the precise detection of targeted molecules possible without PCR.

The team’s development is praised as a new convergence technology that ties CRISPR technology and nanoelectrokinetic technology together. It visualizes the existence of targeted DNA molecule like the pregnancy test kit in just a short period of time. The technology has allowed a quick and precise genetic diagnosis at low cost.

Professor Kim stated, “We hope that this research can help the development of technologies related to point-of-care testing and personalized medical diagnosis. Currently, we are working on developing a new platform to diagnose hematologic malignancy using this technology.”

The research findings were published online on the Nano Letters, the leading journal in the field of nanotechnology, on December 15th. The research was conducted with the support of the Basic Research Support Plan of the Ministry of Science and ICT, Disease Treatment Technology Development Plan of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the BK21 Plan of the SNU Information Technology Committee.

▲ Diagram of the New Detection Method: dCas9-DNA with high mobility concentrate near the nanoporous membrane by the microfluidic device while those that did not cluster propagates away from the membrane
▲ A Two-Line Signal Appears When Sample DNA Combine with dCas9 Protein (Left), A Single-Line Signal Appears When Free DNA Propagates (Right)