Anomalous radial migration of single DNA molecules in capillary electrophoresis.

Analytical chemistry

PubMedID: 12236367

Zheng J, Yeung ES. Anomalous radial migration of single DNA molecules in capillary electrophoresis. Anal Chem. 2002;74(17):4536-47.
We report the unexpected radial migration of DNA molecules in capillary electrophoresis (CE) with applied Poiseuille flow. Such movement can contribute to anomalous migration times, peak dispersion, and size and shape selectivity in CE. When Poiseuille flow is applied from the cathode to the anode, DNA molecules move toward the center of the capillary, forming a narrow, highly concentrated zone. Conversely, when the flow is applied from the anode to the cathode, DNA molecules move toward the walls, leaving a DNA-depleted zone around the axis. We showed that the deformation and orientation of DNA molecules under Poiseuille flow was responsible for the radial migration. By analyzing the forces acting on the deformed and oriented DNA molecules, we derived an expression for the radial lift force, which explained our results very well under different conditions with Poiseuille flow only, electrophoresis only, and the combination of Poiseuille flow and electrophoresis. Factors governing the direction and velocity of radial migration were elucidated. Potential applications of this phenomenon include an alternative to sheath flow in flow cytometry, improving precision and reliability of single-molecule detection, reduction of wall adsorption, and size separation with a mechanism akin to field-flow fractionation. On the negative side, nonuniform electroosmotic flow along the capillary or microfluidic channel is common in CE, and radial migration of certain analytes cannot be neglected.