The ability to place cells in desired locations has become an increasingly important tool for controlling the cellular microenvironment. Cell patterning can be used to manipulate cell-cell interactions, thereby altering the contact area between two cell types in co-culture. Cell patterning can also be used to direct cell-matrix interactions, controlling the contact area with the extracellular matrix (ECM). Cell patterning techniques allow for a more in-depth study of the fundamental features of cells, and it has become an ideal tool for studying everything from cell behavior to molecular expression.
With the development of micro-nanofabrication technology in the past decade, various methods have been developed in the biological field to achieve efficient cell patterning. Dielectrophoretic (DEP) traps are a non-contact method for manipulating polarizable objects. DEP refers to the displacement phenomenon of dielectric particles due to polarization effect in a non-uniform electric field. DEP has many advantages as a cell patterning technique. Because DEP traps consist of stretchable electrode arrays, they can be designed to pattern thousands of cells on a single slide and made small enough to ensure single-cell resolution. In addition, DEP can be used to place cells without patterning the substrate, or when combined with ECM patterning can significantly improve patterning efficiency. The numerous capabilities provided by DEP will greatly benefit applications such as cell development studies, cell-based biosensors, and tissue engineering.
Fig 1. Overview of the DEP trap and trap array, flow chamber packaging, and fluidics.
DEP can be divided into positive DEP (p-DEP) and negative DEP (n-DEP). p-DEP attracts particles to regions of high electric field strength, while n-DEP repels particles to regions of high electric field strength. By making microelectrodes, DEP can be combined with microfluidics. Therefore, single-cell patterning in microfluidics can be achieved by DEP.
Creative Bioarray offers DEP traps for single-cell patterning. Our DEP traps tune size-selective behavior for optimal patterning of particles of desired size. By optimizing geometry and operating conditions, we guarantee to minimize effects on cell health while maximizing trap strength. We take advantage of the high strength of the trap to use high flow rates in the washing steps, thereby minimizing patterning time and exposure of cells to the electric field. Using the trap operation described above, the only cells remaining after the washing step are the cells in the trap. Finally, we turn off the flow and traps, allowing cells to attach to the substrate, grow and proliferate.
Creative Bioarray ensures minimal impact on cell health while maximizing trap strength by optimizing geometry and operating conditions. In addition, our DEP traps allow single-cell patterning using normal cell culture medium, thereby minimizing negative cell-medium interactions. Our technology can be used to pattern single cells in a variety of configurations to help you perform new cell biology experiments at the microscale that were previously impossible.