New monolith technology for automated anion-exchange purification of nucleic acids.
Synthetic nucleic acid analysis often employs pellicular anion-exchange (AE) chromatography because it supports very high efficiency separations while offering means to control secondary structure, retention and resolution by readily modifiable chromatographic conditions. However, these pellicular anion-exchange (pAE) phases do not offer capacity sufficient for lab-scale oligonucleotide (ON) purification. In contrast, monolithic phases produce fast separations at capacities exceeding their pellicular counterparts, but do not exhibit capacities typical of fully porous, bead-based, anion-exchangers. In order to further increase monolith capacity and obtain the selectivity and mass transfer characteristics of pellicular phases, a surface-functionalized monolith was coated with pAE nanobeads (latexes) usually employed on the pellicular DNAPac phase. The nanobead-coated monolith exhibited chromatographic behaviors typical of polymer AE phases. Based on this observation the monolithic substrate surface porosity and latex diameters were co-optimized to produce a hybrid monolith harboring capacity similar to that of fully porous bead-based phases and peak shape approaching that of the pAE phases. We tested the hybrid monolith on a variety of previously developed pAE capabilities including control of ON selectivity, resolution of derivatized ONs, the ability to resolve RNA ONs harboring aberrant linkages at different positions in a single sequence and separation of phosphorothioate diastereoisomers. We compared the yield and purity of an 8 mg ON sample purified on both the new hybrid monolith and a benchmark AE column based on fully porous monodisperse beads. This comparison included an assessment of the relative selectivities of both columns. Finally, we demonstrated the ability to couple AE ON separations with ESI-MS using an automated desalting protocol. This protocol is also useful for preparing ONs for other assays, such as enzyme treatments, that may be sensitive to high salt levels. Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.