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On-chip integration of droplet microfluidics and nanostructure-initiator mass spectrometry for enzyme screening

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Biological assays often require expensive reagents and tedious manipulations. These shortcomings can be overcome using digitally operated microfluidic devices that require reduced sample volumes to automate assays. One particular challenge is integrating bioassays with mass spectrometry based analysis. Towards this goal we have developed μNIMS, a highly sensitive and high throughput technique that integrates droplet microfluidics with nanostructure-initiator mass spectrometry (NIMS). Enzyme reactions are carried out in droplets that can be arrayed on discrete NIMS elements at defined time intervals for subsequent mass spectrometry analysis, enabling time resolved enzyme activity assay. We apply the μNIMS platform for kinetic characterization of a glycoside hydrolase enzyme (CelE-CMB3A), a chimeric enzyme capable of deconstructing plant hemicellulose into monosaccharides for subsequent conversion to biofuel. This study reveals NIMS nanostructures can be fabricated into arrays for microfluidic droplet deposition, NIMS is compatible with droplet and digital microfluidics, and can be used on-chip to assay glycoside hydrolase enzyme in vitro.

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