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Localized, Macromolecular Transport for Thin, Adherent, Single Cells Via an Automated, Single Cell Electroporation Biomanipulator

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7 Author(s)
Kelly Sakaki ; Faculty of Applied Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Surrey, Canada ; Hadi Esmaeilsabzali ; Shabnam Massah ; Gratien G. Prefontaine
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Single cell electroporation (SCE), via microcapillary, is an effective method for molecular, transmembrane transport used to gain insight on cell processes with minimal preparation. Although possessing great potential, SCE is difficult to execute and the technology spans broad fields within cell biology and engineering. The technical complexities, the focus and expertise demanded during manual operation, and the lack of an automated SCE platform limit the widespread use of this technique, thus the potential of SCE has not been realized. In this study, an automated biomanipulator for SCE is presented. Our system is capable of delivering molecules into the cytoplasm of extremely thin cellular features of adherent cells. The intent of the system is to abstract the technical challenges and exploit the accuracy and repeatability of automated instrumentation, leaving only the focus of the experimental design to the operator. Each sequence of SCE including cell and SCE site localization, tip-membrane contact detection, and SCE has been automated. Positions of low-contrast cells are localized and “SCE sites” for microcapillary tip placement are determined using machine vision. In addition, new milestones within automated cell manipulation have been achieved. The system described herein has the capability of automated SCE of “thin” cell features less than 10 μm in thickness. Finally, SCE events are anticipated using visual feedback, while monitoring fluorescing dye entering the cytoplasm of a cell. The execution is demonstrated by inserting a combination of a fluorescing dye and a reporter gene into NIH/3T3 fibroblast cells.

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IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering  (Volume:60 ,  Issue: 11 )