Effects of relative humidity and buffer additives on the contact printing of microarrays by quill pins

Anal Biochem. 2003 Sep 15;320(2):281-91. doi: 10.1016/s0003-2697(03)00348-8.


DNA microarrays printed with quill pins exhibit significant variation in probe DNA spots. Interspot variations and nonuniform distribution of probe within spots are major sources of experimental uncertainty in microarray analysis. To gain better insight into the sources of variation, we analyzed 450 consecutive depositions printed at relative humidities between 40 and 80% using three print buffers. Increasing relative humidity improved printing performance by delaying pin failure but did not reduce the variability in spot characteristics. Adding either betaine or dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) to the print buffer also improved quill pin performance. Least interspot variation was observed with the DMSO additive printed at 80% relative humidity, but this additive also resulted in the greatest intraspot variation. Least intraspot variation was observed with 1.5M betaine printed at 60% relative humidity, but these conditions produced microarrays with high interspot variability. Evaporation of printing solution from the quill reservoir appeared to be the primary cause of interspot and intraspot variations. Our studies indicate that relative humidity and printing solution additives reduce evaporation. Based on the spot variability requirements for a particular application, humidity and additives may be chosen to optimize either inter- or intraspot variability.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Buffers
  • Fluorescence
  • Humidity*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis*
  • Printing* / instrumentation
  • Printing* / methods


  • Buffers