Navigation Links
Texas A&M chemical engineer's work could lead to improved DNA analysis
Date:9/9/2010

COLLEGE STATION, Sept. 9, 2010 DNA analysis is poised to experience a significant advancement thanks to the work of a Texas A&M University chemical engineer, who has discovered a way to achieve more effective separation of DNA fragments.

Working with a widely used gelatin substance known as a hydrogel, Victor M. Ugaz, associate professor in the university's Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, and graduate student Nan Shi have been able to determine the specific type of conditions that result in the optimum gel pore structure for separation of a wide range of DNA fragment sizes. Their findings appear in the Sept. 3 edition of the journal Physical Review Letters.

"It changes the way you think about the entire process because these findings demonstrate a rational way to connect the pore structure of the gel quantitatively to the mechanism by which the DNA moves through the gel," Ugaz explains. "Researchers can now actually design gels to specifically harness certain effects, and they will need this information we have found to do that."

The enhanced separation technique, Ugaz notes, could benefit a wide array of fields that utilize DNA analysis, including biomedical research, forensics and genetic engineering.

Key to Ugaz's findings is the manner in which DNA fragments move through a hydrogel. Employing a process called "electrophoresis," researchers who study DNA typically embed negatively charged DNA into a porous hydrogel. They then apply an electric field which causes the DNA fragments to move through the pores of the hydrogel. Naturally, smaller DNA chains move faster through the maze of pores than longer strands of DNA.

However, when DNA chains are roughly the same size as the pores through which they are attempting to pass, a process called "entropic trapping" takes place, Ugaz notes. During this process, the naturally coiled DNA fragment, in a sense, has to unthread a bit to pass through a pore, he says. Because the fragment wants to return to its coiled shape, it quickly squeezes through the smaller pore so that it can enter a larger pore where there is enough room for it to return to its natural shape.

Harnessing this entropic trapping effect for separation through a hydrogel marks a significant advancement in DNA studies, Ugaz says.

Although it has long been predicted that entropic trapping effects can potentially benefit a wide variety of applications including separation technologies, actually figuring out how to use this phenomenon previously has been difficult in hydrogels because it has not been clear how this transport mechanism is linked to the gel's porous structure, Ugaz explains.

In other words, hydrogels need to have very specific properties such as pore size distribution, and prior to these findings, there has been no way to know how to choose the right hydrogel that has the right properties, Ugaz notes.

"You want to be able to detect the smallest possible difference in size between DNA fragments," Ugaz explains. "The size of the fragments may be very close, and you may need to detect a difference of one unit in size. To do this, you would want to be able to specifically construct a hydrogel with the necessary pore structure to achieve this."

Ugaz's research provided the "instructions on how to do just that.

"We have a better picture of how to do this than what has existed," Ugaz says. "We know what the gel needs to look like and how it needs to be prepared.

"We're able to understand how to construct a gel that would allow DNA to move via an entropic trapping method that enhances separation performance and in turn leads to more effective analysis. This finding could have enormous implications by helping remove current barriers to separation efficiency"


'/>"/>

Contact: Ryan Garcia
ryan.garcia99@tamu.edu
979-845-9237
Texas A&M University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. LGE Execs Teams with Texas Tech to License Advancements in Agriculture, Health and Life Sciences
2. Annual List of Best Doctors in Dallas Showcases Texas Institute for Surgery Physicians
3. Study From the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Demonstrates That AHCC(R) is Safe in Combination With Most Chemotherapeutic Agents
4. SpineSmith Partners Collaborates with University of Texas Biomedical Engineering Students to Develop Innovative Products
5. Self-powered devices possible, says Texas A&M researcher
6. NSTI Announces the 12th Annual Nanotech Conference & Expo 2009 May 3-7, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas
7. Panda Ethanols Hereford, Texas Subsidiary Files Voluntary Chapter 11
8. WaferGen Biosystems, ImmuneRegen BioSciences and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to Collaborate on Novel Wound Healing Research
9. Z Therapy Is The First In North Texas To Offer Revolutionary Treatment Option For Neck Pain Sufferers
10. Solar cells, geological storage research receive DOE funding at the University of Texas at Austin
11. Dozens of New Clean Technology and Nanotech Products Unveiled at TechConnect World Expo in Houston, Texas, May 5-6
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/27/2016)... --  Ginkgo Bioworks , a leading organism design ... awarded as one of the World Economic Forum,s ... innovative companies. Ginkgo Bioworks is engineering biology to ... in the nutrition, health and consumer goods sectors. ... including Fortune 500 companies to design microbes for ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Mosio, a leader in ... Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced clinical research professionals, Mosio ... practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , “The landscape of how ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Houston Methodist ... the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as their ... agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, ... connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring Houston ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, ... of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design ... of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. , The ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:6/15/2016)... ALBANY, New York , June 15, 2016 ... published a new market report titled "Gesture Recognition Market ... Trends and Forecast, 2016 - 2024". According to the ... at USD 11.60 billion in 2015 and is ... and reach USD 48.56 billion by 2024.  ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... -- Paris Police Prefecture ... to ensure the safety of people and operations in several ... tournament Teleste, an international technology group specialised in ... that its video security solution will be utilised by ... safety across the country. The system roll-out is scheduled for ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... , June 3, 2016 ... von Nepal hat ... Lieferung hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung ... in der Produktion und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. ... Ausschreibung im Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):