Scientific Reports

Selective local lysis and sampling of live cells for nucleic acid analysis using a microfluidic probe

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Heterogeneity is inherent to biology, thus it is imperative to realize methods capable of obtaining spatially-resolved genomic and transcriptomic profiles of heterogeneous biological samples. Here, we present a new method for local lysis of live adherent cells for nucleic acid analyses. This method addresses bottlenecks in current approaches, such as dilution of analytes, one-sample-one-test, and incompatibility to adherent cells. We make use of a scanning probe technology - a microfluidic probe - and implement hierarchical hydrodynamic flow confinement (hHFC) to localize multiple biochemicals on a biological substrate in a non-contact, non-destructive manner. hHFC enables rapid recovery of nucleic acids by coupling cell lysis and lysate collection. We locally lysed ∼300 cells with chemical systems adapted for DNA or RNA and obtained lysates of ∼70 cells/μL for DNA analysis and ∼15 cells/μL for mRNA analysis. The lysates were introduced into PCR-based workflows for genomic and transcriptomic analysis. This strategy further enabled selective local lysis of subpopulations in a co-culture of MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 cells, validated by characteristic E-cadherin gene expression in individually extracted cell types. The developed strategy can be applied to study cell-cell, cell-matrix interactions locally, with implications in understanding growth, progression and drug response of a tumor.


14 Jul 2016


Scientific Reports