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Droplet Microfluidics with Capillary Electrophoresis for Glycan Biomarker Analysis

Several glycoproteins are validated biomarkers of various diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic alcohol abuse, or congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG). In particular, CDG represent a group of more than 150 inherited diseases with varied symptoms affecting multiple organs. The distribution of glycans from target glycoprotein(s) can be used to extract information to help the diagnosis and possibly differentiate subtypes of CDG. Indeed, depending on the glycans and the proteins to which they are attached, glycans can play a very broad range of roles in both physical and biological properties of glycoproteins. For glycans in general, capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence detection (CE-LIF) has become a staple. Analysis of glycans with CE-LIF requires several sample preparation steps, including release of glycans from the target glycoprotein, fluorescent labeling of glycans, and purification of labeled glycans. Here, we describe the protocol for glycan sample treatment in a microfluidic droplet system prior to CE-LIF of labeled glycans. The microfluidic droplet approach offers full automation, sample, and reagent volume reduction and elimination of contamination from external environment.