Now, Richard Mathies’ group at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) has developed a PCR-based tool for high-throughput single-cell analysis: microfabricated emulsion generator arrays (MEGAs). This device uses microfluidic technology to undertake massively parallel PCR amplification of DNA from single cells, providing accurate detection and quantification of rare mutants within a population (1). The use of small water droplets in oil to amplify single molecules is known as emulsion PCR; its power comes from the ability to miniaturize reactions into droplets and from using primer-coupled beads (2,3). In this way, all PCR products are the same (or clonal) and physically attached to the bead for easy retrieval.
Detecting extremely rare mutants with single-cell PCR technology