Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Faster, cheaper DNA sequencing method devised

Date:
December 22, 2009
Source:
Boston University College of Engineering
Summary:
Biomedical engineers have devised a method for making future genome sequencing faster and cheaper by dramatically reducing the amount of DNA required, thus eliminating the expensive, time-consuming and error-prone step of DNA amplification.

A team of researchers led by Boston University biomedical engineer Amit Meller is using electrical fields to efficiently draw long strands of DNA through nanopore sensors, drastically reducing the number of DNA copies required for a high throughput analysis.
Credit: Figure copyright, Nature Nanotechnology, 2009

Boston University biomedical engineers have devised a method for making future genome sequencing faster and cheaper by dramatically reducing the amount of DNA required, thus eliminating the expensive, time-consuming and error-prone step of DNA amplification.

In a study published in the Dec. 20 online edition of Nature Nanotechnology, a team led by Boston University Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Amit Meller details pioneering work in detecting DNA molecules as they pass through silicon nanopores. The technique uses electrical fields to feed long strands of DNA through four-nanometer-wide pores, much like threading a needle. The method uses sensitive electrical current measurements to detect single DNA molecules as they pass through the nanopores.

"The current study shows that we can detect a much smaller amount of DNA sample than previously reported," said Meller. "When people start to implement genome sequencing or genome profiling using nanopores, they could use our nanopore capture approach to greatly reduce the number of copies used in those measurements."

Currently, genome sequencing utilizes DNA amplification to make billions of molecular copies in order to produce a sample large enough to be analyzed. In addition to the time and cost DNA amplification entails, some of the molecules -- like photocopies of photocopies -- come out less than perfect. Meller and his colleagues at BU, New York University and Bar-Ilan University in Israel have harnessed electrical fields surrounding the mouths of the nanopores to attract long, negatively charged strands of DNA and slide them through the nanopore where the DNA sequence can be detected. Since the DNA is drawn to the nanopores from a distance, far fewer copies of the molecule are needed.

Before creating this new method, the team had to develop an understanding of electro-physics at the nanoscale, where the rules that govern the larger world don't necessarily apply. They made a counterintuitive discovery: the longer the DNA strand, the more quickly it found the pore opening.

"That's really surprising," Meller said. "You'd expect that if you have a longer 'spaghetti,' then finding the end would be much harder. At the same time this discovery means that the nanopore system is optimized for the detection of long DNA strands -- tens of thousands basepairs, or even more. This could dramatically speed future genomic sequencing by allowing analysis of a long DNA strand in one swipe, rather than having to assemble results from many short snippets.

"DNA amplification technologies limit DNA molecule length to under a thousand basepairs," Meller added. "Because our method avoids amplification, it not only reduces the cost, time and error rate of DNA replication techniques, but also enables the analysis of very long strands of DNA, much longer than current limitations."

With this knowledge in hand, Meller and his team set out to optimize the effect. They used salt gradients to alter the electrical field around the pores, which increased the rate at which DNA molecules were captured and shortened the lag time between molecules, thus reducing the quantity of DNA needed for accurate measurements. Rather than floating around until they happened upon a nanopore, DNA strands were funneled into the openings.

By boosting capture rates by a few orders of magnitude, and reducing the volume of the sample chamber the researchers reduced the number of DNA molecules required by a factor of 10,000 -- from about 1 billion sample molecules to 100,000.

The research was funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute of the Institutes of Health and by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston University College of Engineering. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Electrostatic Focusing of Unlabelled DNA into Nanoscale Pores Using a Salt Gradient. Nature Nanotechnology, Online December 21, 2009 DOI: 10.1038/natureNNANO.2009.379

Cite This Page:

Boston University College of Engineering. "Faster, cheaper DNA sequencing method devised." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091220143923.htm>.
Boston University College of Engineering. (2009, December 22). Faster, cheaper DNA sequencing method devised. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091220143923.htm
Boston University College of Engineering. "Faster, cheaper DNA sequencing method devised." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091220143923.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins