[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A critical early step in drug discovery is the screening of a chemical library. Typically, promising compounds are identified in a primary screen and then more fully characterized in a dose-response analysis with 7-10 data points per compound. Here, we describe a robust microfluidic approach that increases the number of data points to approximately 10,000 per compound. The system exploits Taylor-Aris dispersion to create concentration gradients, which are then segmented into picoliter microreactors by droplet-based microfluidics. The large number of data points results in IC(50) values that are highly precise (± 2.40% at 95% confidence) and highly reproducible (CV = 2.45%, n = 16). In addition, the high resolution of the data reveals complex dose-response relationships unambiguously. We used this system to screen a chemical library of 704 compounds against protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B, a diabetes, obesity, and cancer target. We identified a number of novel inhibitors, the most potent being sodium cefsulodine, which has an IC(50) of 27 ± 0.83 μM.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2011; 109(2):378-83. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1113324109 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Droplet-based microfluidics is a powerful tool for biology and chemistry as it allows the production and the manipulation of picoliter-size droplets acting as individual reactors. In this format, high-sensitivity assays are typically based on fluorescence, so fluorophore exchange between droplets must be avoided. Fluorogenic substrates based on the coumarin leaving group are widely used to measure a variety of enzymatic activities, but their application in droplet-based microfluidic systems is severely impaired by the fast transport of the fluorescent product between compartments. Here we report the synthesis of new amidase fluorogenic substrates based on 7-aminocoumarin-4-methanesulfonic acid (ACMS), a highly water-soluble dye, and their suitability for droplet-based microfluidics applications. Both substrate and product had the required spectral characteristics and remained confined in droplets from hours to days. As a model experiment, a phenylacetylated ACMS was synthesized and used as a fluorogenic substrate of Escherichia coli penicillin G acylase. Kinetic parameters (k(cat) and K(M)) measured in bulk and in droplets on-chip were very similar, demonstrating the suitability of this synthesis strategy to produce a variety of ACMS-based substrates for assaying amidase activities both in microtiter plate and droplet-based microfluidic formats.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have developed a method for high-throughput isothermal amplification of single DNA molecules in a droplet-based microfluidic system. DNA amplification in droplets was analyzed using an intercalating fluorochrome, allowing fast and accurate "digital" quantification of the template DNA based on the Poisson distribution of DNA molecules in droplets. The clonal amplified DNA in each 2 pL droplet was further analyzed by measuring the enzymatic activity of the encoded proteins after fusion with a 15 pL droplet containing an in vitro translation system.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We describe a highly efficient microfluidic fluorescence-activated droplet sorter (FADS) combining many of the advantages of microtitre-plate screening and traditional fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Single cells are compartmentalized in emulsion droplets, which can be sorted using dielectrophoresis in a fluorescence-activated manner (as in FACS) at rates up to 2000 droplets s(-1). To validate the system, mixtures of E. coli cells, expressing either the reporter enzyme beta-galactosidase or an inactive variant, were compartmentalized with a fluorogenic substrate and sorted at rates of approximately 300 droplets s(-1). The false positive error rate of the sorter at this throughput was <1 in 10(4) droplets. Analysis of the sorted cells revealed that the primary limit to enrichment was the co-encapsulation of E. coli cells, not sorting errors: a theoretical model based on the Poisson distribution accurately predicted the observed enrichment values using the starting cell density (cells per droplet) and the ratio of active to inactive cells. When the cells were encapsulated at low density ( approximately 1 cell for every 50 droplets), sorting was very efficient and all of the recovered cells were the active strain. In addition, single active droplets were sorted and cells were successfully recovered.
Lab on a Chip 07/2009; 9(13):1850-8. DOI:10.1039/b902504a · 6.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To develop a high throughput screening-compatible assay for the selection of species-specific antibiotics that do not harm human cells.
Staphylococcus aureus and human reporter cells continuously generating a fluorescence signal were competitively co-cultivated. The fluorescence signals were determined in the presence and absence of the specific antibiotic streptomycin and the toxic compound sodium azide. The results were compared with a standard cfu assay.
In the absence of an effective antibiotic, S. aureus outgrew the human reporter cells and thus abolished the fluorescence signal. Conversely, the addition of streptomycin resulted in the growth of the reporter cells and a strong fluorescence signal. When sodium azide was added instead of streptomycin, only a very low background signal was obtained indicating toxicity and damage to the human reporter cells. The assay proved to be highly reliable (Z-factor >0.9) and high fluorescence signals correctly correlated with the efficient inhibition of S. aureus, as determined in comparative cfu assays.
In contrast to conventional cfu assays, the co-cultivation system allows the effects of a drug candidate on pathogens and human cells to be monitored simultaneously. Cytotoxic compounds can, therefore, be quickly ruled out during a primary screen. The nature of the screen also enables effective antibiotics to be identified without engineering the target pathogen to yield a fluorescence signal.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: High-throughput, cell-based assays require small sample volumes to reduce assay costs and to allow for rapid sample manipulation. However, further miniaturization of conventional microtiter plate technology is problematic due to evaporation and capillary action. To overcome these limitations, we describe droplet-based microfluidic platforms in which cells are grown in aqueous microcompartments separated by an inert perfluorocarbon carrier oil. Synthesis of biocompatible surfactants and identification of gas-permeable storage systems allowed human cells, and even a multicellular organism (C. elegans), to survive and proliferate within the microcompartments for several days. Microcompartments containing single cells could be reinjected into a microfluidic device after incubation to measure expression of a reporter gene. This should open the way for high-throughput, cell-based screening that can use >1000-fold smaller assay volumes and has approximately 500x higher throughput than conventional microtiter plate assays.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The goal of in vitro compartmentalization (IVC) is to divide a large reaction between many microscopic compartments1. This technique was first developed to generate 'artificial cells' for the directed evolution of proteins (Fig. 1). Typically, an aqueous solution of genes and an in vitro transcription-translation system is stirred (or homogenized) into an oil-surfactant mixture to create a water-in-oil (w/o) emulsion with 1010 aqueous droplets per ml of emulsion. The majority of droplets contain no more than a single gene along with all of the molecular machinery needed to express that gene. The expressed proteins and the products of their catalytic activities cannot leave the droplets, and so genotype is coupled to phenotype in vitro, making it possible to select very large libraries of genes (108–1011 genes). We describe the advantages and applications of IVC in Box 1. Here we present a protocol for performing a directed evolution experiment by IVC that makes use of one or more w/o emulsions. This procedure involves the generation of a gene library, the performance of a selection, and the subsequent recovery of the selected genes by PCR. We also describe two procedures for converting w/o emulsions to water-in-oil-in-water (w/o/w) emulsions for high-throughput screening using a fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS; Box 2 and Fig. 2, and Box 3). Finally, we describe two methods for delivering substrates, regulators and other compounds to the preformed aqueous droplets of a w/o emulsion (Box 4).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The efficient amplification of genomic libraries, cDNA libraries and other complex mixtures of genes by PCR is impeded by two phenomena: firstly, short fragments tend to be amplified in preference to larger ones; and, secondly, artifactual fragments are generated by recombination between homologous regions of DNA. Recombination in this case occurs when a primer is partially extended on one template during one cycle of PCR and further extended on another template during a later cycle. Thus, chimeric molecules are generated, the short ones of which are then preferentially amplified as described in Figure 1. A variety of PCR protocols have been proposed to minimize these problems, most of which rely on high template concentrations and low numbers of PCR cycles. Clearly, however, such an approach is not viable if little template DNA is available. Here we describe a protocol for amplifying complex DNA mixtures, based on the compartmentalization of genes in a water-in-oil (w/o) emulsion. Template fragments are segregated in the minute aqueous droplets of the emulsion and amplified by PCR in isolation (Fig. 1). This approach alleviates the problems described above while enabling the use of small amounts of template DNA and high numbers of PCR cycles. Box 1 describes an alternative method for generating very stable emulsions for emulsion PCR using the surfactant ABIL EM 90 (Fig. 2).