Single-molecule DNA amplification and analysis in an integrated microfluidic device

Anal Chem. 2001 Feb 1;73(3):565-70. doi: 10.1021/ac001026b.


Stochastic PCR amplification of single DNA template molecules followed by capillary electrophoretic (CE) analysis of the products is demonstrated in an integrated microfluidic device. The microdevice consists of submicroliter PCR chambers etched into a glass substrate that are directly connected to a microfabricated CE system. Valves and hydrophobic vents provide controlled and sensorless loading of the 280-nL PCR chambers; the low volume reactor, the low thermal mass, and the use of thin-film heaters permit cycle times as fast as 30 s. The amplified product, labeled with an intercalating fluorescent dye, is directly injected into the gel-filled capillary channel for electrophoretic analysis. Repetitive PCR analyses at the single DNA template molecule level exhibit quantized product peak areas; a histogram of the normalized peak areas reveals clusters of events caused by 0, 1, 2, and 3 viable template copies in the reactor and these event clusters are shown to fit a Poisson distribution. This device demonstrates the most sensitive PCR possible in a microfabricated device. The detection of single DNA molecules will also facilitate single-cell and single-molecule studies to expose the genetic variation underlying ensemble sequence and expression averages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA / analysis*
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA Primers
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary / instrumentation*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA