Simultaneous RNA purification and size selection using on-chip isotachophoresis with an ionic spacer

Crystal M. Han, David Catoe, Sarah A. Munro, Ruba Khnouf, Michael P. Snyder, Juan G. Santiago, Marc L. Salit, Can Cenik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We present an on-chip method for the extraction of RNA within a specific size range from low-abundance samples. We use isotachophoresis (ITP) with an ionic spacer and a sieving matrix to enable size-selection with a high yield of RNA in the target size range. The spacer zone separates two concentrated ITP peaks, the first containing unwanted single nucleotides and the second focusing RNA of the target size range (2-35 nt). Our ITP method excludes >90% of single nucleotides and >65% of longer RNAs (>35 nt). Compared to size selection using gel electrophoresis, ITP-based size-selection yields a 2.2-fold increase in the amount of extracted RNAs within the target size range. We also demonstrate compatibility of the ITP-based size-selection with downstream next generation sequencing. On-chip ITP-prepared samples reveal higher reproducibility of transcript-specific measurements compared to samples size-selected by gel electrophoresis. Our method offers an attractive alternative to conventional sample preparation for sequencing with shorter assay time, higher extraction efficiency and reproducibility. Potential applications of ITP-based size-selection include sequencing-based analyses of small RNAs from low-abundance samples such as rare cell types, samples from fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS), or limited clinical samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2741-2749
Number of pages9
JournalLab on a chip
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 21 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work used the Genome Sequencing Service Center by Stanford Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine Sequencing Center, supported by NIH S10OD020141 instrumentation grant. This work was supported in part by NIH grant CA204522 (CC). CC is a CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research supported by CPRIT Grant RR180042. CMH acknowledges support from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) NRC Postdoctoral Associateship Program. CMH, SAM, further acknowledge support from the NIST Joint Initiative for Metrology in Biology at Stanford. Certain commercial equipment, instruments or materials are identified in this paper in order to specify the experimental procedure adequately. Such identification is not intended to imply recommendation or endorsement by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), nor is it intended to imply that the materials or equipment identified are necessarily the best available for the purpose.

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