A plug and play microfluidic platform for standardized sensitive low-input chromatin immunoprecipitation

René A.M. Dirks, Peter C. Thomas, Haoyu Wu, Robert C. Jones, Hendrik G. Stunnenberg, Hendrik Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Epigenetic profiling by chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing (ChIP-seq) has become a powerful tool for genome-wide identification of regulatory elements, for defining transcriptional regulatory networks, and for screening for biomarkers. However, the ChIP-seq protocol for low-input samples is laborious and time-consuming and suffers from experimental variation, resulting in poor reproducibility and low throughput. Although prototypic microfluidic ChIP-seq platforms have been developed, these are poorly transferable as they require sophisticated custom-made equipment and in-depth microfluidic and ChIP expertise, while lacking parallelization. To enable standardized, automated ChIP-seq profiling of low-input samples, we constructed microfluidic PDMS-based plates capable of performing 24 sensitive ChIP reactions within 30 min of hands-on time and 4.5 h of machine-running time. These disposable plates can be conveniently loaded into a widely available controller for pneumatics and thermocycling. In light of the plug and play (PnP) ChIP plates and workflow, we named our procedure PnP-ChIP-seq. We show high-quality ChIP-seq on hundreds to a few thousand of cells for all six post-translational histone modifications that are included in the International Human Epigenome Consortium set of reference epigenomes. PnP-ChIP-seq robustly detects epigenetic differences on promoters and enhancers between naive and more primed mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs). Furthermore, we used our platform to generate epigenetic profiles of rare subpopulations of mESCs that resemble the two-cell stage of embryonic development. PnP-ChIP-seq allows nonexpert laboratories worldwide to conveniently run robust, standardized ChIP-seq, whereas its high throughput, consistency, and sensitivity pave the way toward large-scale profiling of precious sample types such as rare subpopulations of cells or biopsies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-933
Number of pages15
JournalGenome Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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