Integrated Microfluidic Device for Drug Studies of Early C. Elegans Embryogenesis.
ABSTRACT: Small molecules inhibitors are powerful tools for studying multiple aspects of cell biology and stand at the forefront of drug discovery pipelines. However, in the early Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) embryo, which is a powerful model system for cell and developmental biology, the use of small molecule inhibitors has been limited by the impermeability of the embryonic eggshell, the low-throughput manual embryo isolation methods, and the lack of well-controlled drug delivery protocols. This work reports a fully integrated microfluidic approach for studies of C. elegans early embryogenesis, including the possibility of testing small molecule inhibitors with increased throughput and versatility. The setup enables robust on-chip extraction of embryos from gravid adult worms in a dedicated pillar array chamber by mechanical compression, followed by rapid fluidic transfer of embryos into an adjacent microtrap array. Parallel analysis of ?100 embryos by high-resolution time-lapse imaging from the one-cell stage zygote until hatching can be performed with this device. The implementation of versatile microfluidic protocols, in particular time-controlled and reversible drug delivery to on-chip immobilized embryos, demonstrates the potential of the device for biochemical and pharmacological assays.
Project description:Zebrafish (Danio rerio) has recently emerged as a powerful experimental model in drug discovery and environmental toxicology. Drug discovery screens performed on zebrafish embryos mirror with a high level of accuracy the tests usually performed on mammalian animal models, and fish embryo toxicity assay (FET) is one of the most promising alternative approaches to acute ecotoxicity testing with adult fish. Notwithstanding this, automated in-situ analysis of zebrafish embryos is still deeply in its infancy. This is mostly due to the inherent limitations of conventional techniques and the fact that metazoan organisms are not easily susceptible to laboratory automation. In this work, we describe the development of an innovative miniaturized chip-based device for the in-situ analysis of zebrafish embryos. We present evidence that automatic, hydrodynamic positioning, trapping and long-term immobilization of single embryos inside the microfluidic chips can be combined with time-lapse imaging to provide real-time developmental analysis. Our platform, fabricated using biocompatible polymer molding technology, enables rapid trapping of embryos in low shear stress zones, uniform drug microperfusion and high-resolution imaging without the need of manual embryo handling at various developmental stages. The device provides a highly controllable fluidic microenvironment and post-analysis eleuthero-embryo stage recovery. Throughout the incubation, the position of individual embryos is registered. Importantly, we also for first time show that microfluidic embryo array technology can be effectively used for the analysis of anti-angiogenic compounds using transgenic zebrafish line (fli1a:EGFP). The work provides a new rationale for rapid and automated manipulation and analysis of developing zebrafish embryos at a large scale.
Project description:Current human fertilization in vitro (IVF) bypasses the female oviduct and manually inseminates, fertilizes and cultivates embryos in a static microdrop containing appropriate chemical compounds. A microfluidic microchannel system for IVF is considered to provide an improved in-vivo-mimicking environment to enhance the development in a culture system for an embryo before implantation. We demonstrate a novel digitalized microfluidic device powered with electrowetting on a dielectric (EWOD) to culture an embryo in vitro in a single droplet in a microfluidic environment to mimic the environment in vivo for development of the embryo and to culture the embryos with good development and live births. Our results show that the dynamic culture powered with EWOD can manipulate a single droplet containing one mouse embryo and culture to the blastocyst stage. The rate of embryo cleavage to a hatching blastocyst with a dynamic culture is significantly greater than that with a traditional static culture (p<0.05). The EWOD chip enhances the culture of mouse embryos in a dynamic environment. To test the reproductive outcome of the embryos collected from an EWOD chip as a culture system, we transferred embryos to pseudo-pregnant female mice and produced live births. These results demonstrate that an EWOD-based microfluidic device is capable of culturing mammalian embryos in a microfluidic biological manner, presaging future clinical application.
Project description:Global untargeted metabolomics study to analyse culture media extracted from an innovative microfluidic device or traditional microdrops in presence or absence of murine embryos to investigate PDMS-release of biomolecules and embryo metabolic activity.
Project description:Studies of the real-time dynamics of embryonic development require a gentle embryo handling method, the possibility of long-term live imaging during the complete embryogenesis, as well as of parallelization providing a population's statistics, while keeping single embryo resolution. We describe an automated approach that fully accomplishes these requirements for embryos of Caenorhabditis elegans, one of the most employed model organisms in biomedical research. We developed a microfluidic platform which makes use of pure passive hydrodynamics to run on-chip worm cultures, from which we obtain synchronized embryo populations, and to immobilize these embryos in incubator microarrays for long-term high-resolution optical imaging. We successfully employ our platform to investigate morphogenesis and mitochondrial biogenesis during the full embryonic development and elucidate the role of the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPR(mt)) within C. elegans embryogenesis. Our method can be generally used for protein expression and developmental studies at the embryonic level, but can also provide clues to understand the aging process and age-related diseases in particular.
Project description:The development of miniaturized devices for studying zebrafish embryos has been limited due to complicated fabrication and operation processes. Here, we reported on a microfluidic device that enabled the capture and culture of zebrafish embryos and real-time monitoring of dynamic embryonic development. The device was simply fabricated by bonding two layers of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) structures replicated from three-dimensional (3D) printed reusable molds onto a flat glass substrate. Embryos were easily loaded into the device with a pipette, docked in traps by gravity, and then retained in traps with hydrodynamic forces for long-term culturing. A degassing chamber bonded on top was used to remove air bubbles from the embryo-culturing channel and traps so that any embryo movement caused by air bubbles was eliminated during live imaging. Computational fluid dynamics simulations suggested this embryo-trapping and -retention regime to exert low shear stress on the immobilized embryos. Monitoring of the zebrafish embryogenesis over 20 h during the early stages successfully verified the performance of the microfluidic device for culturing the immobilized zebrafish embryos. Therefore, this rapid-prototyping, low-cost and easy-to-operate microfluidic device offers a promising platform for the long-term culturing of immobilized zebrafish embryos under continuous medium perfusion and the high-quality screening of the developmental dynamics.
Project description:The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a suitable model organism in drug screening. Traditionally worms are grown on agar plates, posing many challenges for long-term culture and phenotyping of animals under identical conditions. Microfluidics allows for 'personalized' phenotyping, as microfluidic chips permit collecting individual responses over worms' full life. Here, we present a multiplexed, high-throughput, high-resolution microfluidic approach to culture C. elegans from embryo to the adult stage at single animal resolution. We allocated single embryos to growth chambers, for observing the main embryonic and post-embryonic development stages and phenotypes, while exposing worms to up to 8 different well-controlled chemical conditions. Our approach allowed eliminating bacteria aggregation and biofilm formation-related clogging issues, which enabled us performing up to 80 hours of automated single worm culture studies. Our microfluidic platform is linked with an automated phenotyping code that registers organism-associated phenotypes at high-throughput. We validated our platform with a dose-response study of the anthelmintic drug tetramisole by studying its influence through the life cycle of the nematodes. In parallel, we could observe development effects and variations in single embryo and worm viability due to the bleaching procedure that is standardly used for harvesting the embryos from a worm culture agar plate.
Project description:Cryopreservation is a key technology in biology and clinical practice. This paper presents a digital microfluidic device that automates sample preparation for mammalian embryo vitrification. Individual micro droplets manipulated on the microfluidic device were used as micro-vessels to transport a single mouse embryo through a complete vitrification procedure. Advantages of this approach, compared to manual operation and channel-based microfluidic vitrification, include automated operation, cryoprotectant concentration gradient generation, and feasibility of loading and retrieval of embryos.
Project description:In this study, we report a microfluidic device for the whole-life culture of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans that allows the scoring of animal survival and health measures. This device referred to as the NemaLife chip features: (1) an optimized micropillar arena in which animals can crawl, (2) sieve channels that separate progeny and prevent the loss of adults from the arena during culture maintenance, and (3) ports that allow rapid accessibility for feeding the adult-only population and introducing reagents as needed. The pillar arena geometry was optimized to accommodate the growing body size during culture and emulate the body gait and locomotion of animals reared on agar. Likewise, feeding protocols were optimized to recapitulate longevity outcomes typical of standard plate growth. Key benefits of the NemaLife Chip include eliminating the need to perform repeated manual transfers of adults during survival assays, negating the need for progeny-blocking chemical interventions, and avoiding the swim-induced stress across lifespan in animals reared in liquid. We also show that the culture of animals in pillar-less microfluidic chambers reduces lifespan and introduces physiological stress by increasing the occurrence of age-related vulval integrity disorder. We validated our pillar-based device with longevity analyses of classical aging mutants (daf-2, age-1, eat-2, and daf-16) and animals subjected to RNAi knockdown of age-related genes (age-1 and daf-16). We also showed that healthspan measures such as pharyngeal pumping and tap-induced stimulated reversals can be scored across the lifespan in the NemaLife chip. Overall, the capacity to generate reliable lifespan and physiological data underscores the potential of the NemaLife chip to accelerate healthspan and lifespan investigations in C. elegans.
Project description:Genetic and genome-wide RNAi approaches available in C. elegans, combined with tools for visualizing subcellular events with high-resolution, have led to increasing adoption of the early C. elegans embryo as a model for mechanistic and functional genomic analysis of cellular processes. However, a limitation of this system has been the impermeability of the embryo eggshell, which has prevented the routine use of small molecule inhibitors. Here, we present a method to permeabilize and immobilize embryos for acute inhibitor treatment in conjunction with live imaging. To identify a means to permeabilize the eggshell, we used a dye uptake assay to screen a set of 310 candidate genes defined by a combination of bioinformatic criteria. This screen identified 20 genes whose inhibition resulted in >75% eggshell permeability, and 3 that permeabilized embryos with minimal deleterious effects on embryo production and early embryonic development. To mount permeabilized embryos for acute drug addition in conjunction with live imaging, we combined optimized inhibition of one of these genes with the use of a microfabricated chamber that we designed. We demonstrate that these two developments enable the temporally controlled introduction of inhibitors for mechanistic studies. This method should also open new avenues of investigation by allowing profiling and specificity-testing of inhibitors through comparison with genome-wide phenotypic datasets.
Project description:Environmental stress, such as oxygen deprivation, affects various cellular activities and developmental processes. In this study, we directly investigated Drosophila embryo development in vivo while cultured on a microfluidic device, which imposed an oxygen gradient on the developing embryos. The designed microfluidic device enabled both temporal and spatial control of the local oxygen gradient applied to the live embryos. Time-lapse live cell imaging was used to monitor the morphology and cellular migration patterns as embryos were placed in various geometries relative to the oxygen gradient. Results show that pole cell movement and tail retraction during Drosophila embryogenesis are highly sensitive to oxygen concentrations. Through modeling, we also estimated the oxygen permeability across the Drosophila embryonic layers for the first time using parameters measured on our oxygen control device.