Hall, E. W., & Faris, G. W. (2014). Microdroplet temperature calibration via thermal dissociation of quenched DNA oligomers. Biomedical Optics Express, 5(3), 737-751. doi: 10.1364/boe.5.000737
The development of microscale analytical techniques has created an increasing demand for reliable and accurate heating at the microscale. Here, we present a novel method for calibrating the temperature of microdroplets using quenched, fluorescently labeled DNA oligomers. Upon melting, the 3′ fluorophore of the reporter oligomer separates from the 5′ quencher of its reverse complement, creating a fluorescent signal recorded as a melting curve. The melting temperature for a given oligomer is determined with a conventional quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) instrument and used to calibrate the temperature within a microdroplet, with identical buffer concentrations, heated with an infrared laser. Since significant premelt fluorescence prevents the use of a conventional (single-term) sigmoid or logistic function to describe the melting curve, we present a three-term sigmoid model that provides a very good match to the asymmetric fluorescence melting curve with premelting. Using mixtures of three oligomers of different lengths, we fit multiple three-term sigmoids to obtain precise comparison of the microscale and macroscale fluorescence melting curves using “extrapolated two-state” melting temperatures.