Assessing neural stem cell motility using an agarose gel-based microfluidic device.
ABSTRACT While microfluidic technology is reaching a new level of maturity for macromolecular assays, cell-based assays are still at an infant stage. This is largely due to the difficulty with which one can create a cell-compatible and steady microenvironment using conventional microfabrication techniques and materials. We address this problem via the introduction of a novel microfabrication material, agarose gel, as the base material for the microfluidic device. Agarose gel is highly malleable, and permeable to gas and nutrients necessary for cell survival, and thus an ideal material for cell-based assays. We have shown previously that agarose gel based devices have been successful in studying bacterial and neutrophil cell migration. In this report, three parallel microfluidic channels are patterned in an agarose gel membrane of about 1mm thickness. Constant flows with media/buffer are maintained in the two side channels using a peristaltic pump. Cells are maintained in the center channel for observation. Since the nutrients and chemicals in the side channels are constantly diffusing from the side to center channel, the chemical environment of the center channel is easily controlled via the flow along the side channels. Using this device, we demonstrate that the movement of neural stem cells can be monitored optically with ease under various chemical conditions, and the experimental results show that the over expression of epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) enhances the motility of neural stem cells. Motility of neural stem cells is an important biomarker for assessing cells aggressiveness, thus tumorigenic factor. Deciphering the mechanism underlying NSC motility will yield insight into both disorders of neural development and into brain cancer stem cell invasion.
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ABSTRACT: Chemotaxis refers to a process whereby cells move up or down a chemical gradient. Sperm chemotaxis is known to be a strategy exploited by marine invertebrates such as sea urchins to reach eggs efficiently in moving water. Less is understood about how or whether chemotaxis is used by mammalian sperm to reach eggs, where fertilization takes place within the confinement of a reproductive tract. In this report, we quantitatively assessed sea urchin and mouse sperm chemotaxis using a recently developed microfluidic model and high-speed imaging. Results demonstrated that sea urchin Arbacia punctulata sperm were chemotactic toward the peptide resact with high chemotactic sensitivity, with an average velocity Vx up the chemical gradient as high as 20% of its average speed (238 μm/s), while mouse sperm displayed no statistically significant chemotactic behavior in progesterone gradients, which had been proposed to guide mammalian sperm toward eggs. This work demonstrates the validity of a microfluidic model for quantitative sperm chemotaxis studies, and reveals a biological insight that chemotaxis up a progesterone gradient may not be a universal strategy for mammalian sperm to reach eggs.PLoS ONE 04/2013; 8(4):e60587. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0060587 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We studied the response of swimming Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria in a comprehensive set of well-controlled chemical concentration gradients using a newly developed microfluidic device and cell tracking imaging technique. In parallel, we carried out a multi-scale theoretical modeling of bacterial chemotaxis taking into account the relevant internal signaling pathway dynamics, and predicted bacterial chemotactic responses at the cellular level. By measuring the E. coli cell density profiles across the microfluidic channel at various spatial gradients of ligand concentration grad[L] and the average ligand concentration [L] near the peak chemotactic response region, we demonstrated unambiguously in both experiments and model simulation that the mean chemotactic drift velocity of E. coli cells increased monotonically with grad [L]/[L] or approximately grad(log[L])--that is E. coli cells sense the spatial gradient of the logarithmic ligand concentration. The exact range of the log-sensing regime was determined. The agreements between the experiments and the multi-scale model simulation verify the validity of the theoretical model, and revealed that the key microscopic mechanism for logarithmic sensing in bacterial chemotaxis is the adaptation kinetics, in contrast to explanations based directly on ligand occupancy.Biophysical Journal 04/2009; 96(6):2439-48. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2008.10.027 · 3.83 Impact Factor