Microchip laser-induced fluorescence detection of proteins at submicrogram per milliliter levels mediated by dynamic labeling under pseudonative conditions.Anal Chem. 2004 Aug 15; 76(16):4705-14.AC
We have previously demonstrated on-column dynamic labeling of protein-SDS complexes on capillaries and microchips for laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) detection using both a commercially available fluor and a protein separation buffer. Upon binding to hydrophobic moieties (of the analyte or separation buffer), the fluor undergoes a conformational change allowing fluorescence detection at 590 nm following excitation with 488-nm light. Our original work showed on-chip limits of detection (LOD) comparable with those using UV detection (1 x 10(-5) M) on capillaries-falling significantly short of the detection limits expected for LIF. This was largely a function of the physicochemical characteristics of the separation buffer components, which provided significant background fluorescence. Having defined the contributing factors involved, a new separation buffer was produced which reduced the background fluorescence and, consequently, increased the available dye for binding to protein-SDS complexes, improving the sensitivity in both capillaries and microchips by at least 2 orders of magnitude. The outcome is a rapid, sensitive method for protein sizing and quantitation applicable to both capillary and microchip separations with a LOD of 500 ng/mL for bovine serum albumin. Interestingly, sensitivity on microdevices was improved by inclusion of the dye in the sample matrix, while addition of dye to samples in conventional CE resulted in a drastic reduction in sensitivity and resolution. This can be explained by the differences in the injection schemes used in the two systems. The linear range for protein quantitation covered at least 2 orders of magnitude in microchip applications. On-chip analysis of human sera allowed abnormalities, specifically the presence of elevated levels of gamma-globulins, to be determined.