Modelling of electrokinetic phenomena for capture of PEGylated ribonuclease A in a microdevice with insulating structures uri icon


  • Synthesis of PEGylated proteins results in a mixture of protein-polyethylene glycol (PEG) conjugates and the unreacted native protein. From a ribonuclease A (RNase A) PEGylation reaction, mono-PEGylated RNase A (mono-PEG RNase A) has proven therapeutic effects against cancer, reason for which there is an interest in isolating it from the rest of the reaction products. Experimental trapping of PEGylated RNase A inside an electrokinetically driven microfluidic device has been previously demonstrated. Now, from a theoretical point of view, we have studied the electrokinetic phenomena involved in the dielectrophoretic streaming of the native RNase A protein and the trapping of the mono-PEG RNase A inside a microfluidic channel. To accomplish this, we used two 3D computational models, a sphere and an ellipse, adapted to each protein. The effect of temperature on parameters related to trapping was also studied. A temperature increase showed to rise the electric and thermal conductivities of the suspending solution, hindering dielectrophoretic trapping. In contrast, the dynamic viscosity of the suspending solution decreased as the temperature rose, favoring the dielectrophoretic manipulation of the proteins. Also, our models were able to predict the magnitude and direction of the velocity of both proteins indicating trapping for the PEGylated conjugate or no trapping for the native protein. In addition, a parametric sweep study revealed the effect of the protein zeta potential on the electrokinetic response of the protein. We believe this work will serve as a tool to improve the design of electrokinetically driven microfluidic channels for the separation and recovery of PEGylated proteins in one single step.

Publication date

  • May 1, 2016