Characterization of protein interactions is essential to the discovery of disease biomarkers, the development of diagnostic assays, and the screening for therapeutic drugs. Conventional flow-through kinetic measurements need relative large amount of sample that is not feasible for precious protein samples. We report a novel method to measure protein interaction kinetics in a single droplet with sub microliter or less volume. A droplet in a humidity-controlled environmental chamber is replacing the microfluidic channels as the reactor for the protein interaction. The binding process is monitored by a surface plasmon resonance imaging (SPRi) system. Association curves are obtained from the average SPR image intensity in the center area of the droplet. The washing step required by conventional flow-through SPR method is eliminated in the droplet method. The association and dissociation rate constants and binding affinity of an antigen-antibody interaction are obtained by global fitting of association curves at different concentrations. The result obtained by this method is accurate as validated by conventional flow-through SPR system. This droplet-based method not only allows kinetic studies for proteins with limited supply but also opens the door for high-throughput protein interaction study in a droplet-based microarray format that enables measurement of many to many interactions on a single chip.
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