Microfluidic application-specific integrated device for monitoring direct cell-cell communication via gap junctions between individual cell pairs

Lee, Philip J.; Hung, Paul J.; Shaw, Robin; Jan, Lily; Lee, Luke P.
May 2005
Applied Physics Letters;5/30/2005, Vol. 86 Issue 22, p223902
Academic Journal
Direct cell-cell communication between adjacent cells is vital for the development and regulation of functional tissues. However, current biological techniques are difficult to scale up for high-throughput screening of cell-cell communication in an array format. In order to provide an effective biophysical tool for the analysis of molecular mechanisms of gap junctions that underlie intercellular communication, we have developed a microfluidic device for selective trapping of cell-pairs and simultaneous optical characterizations. Two different cell populations can be brought into membrane contact using an array of trapping channels with a 2 μm by 2 μm cross section. Device operation was verified by observation of dye transfer between mouse fibroblasts (NIH3T3) placed in membrane contact. Integration with lab-on-a-chip technologies offers promising applications for cell-based analytical tools such as drug screening, clinical diagnostics, and soft-state biophysical devices for the study of gap junction protein channels in cellular communications. Understanding electrical transport mechanisms via gap junctions in soft membranes will impact quantitative biomedical sciences as well as clinical applications.


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