We describe a genetic AND gate for cell-targeted metabolic labeling and proteomic analysis in complex cellular systems. The centerpiece of the AND gate is a bisected methionyl-tRNA synthetase (MetRS) that charges the Met surrogate azidonorleucine (Anl) to tRNA(Met). Cellular protein labeling occurs only upon activation of two different promoters that drive expression of the N- and C-terminal fragments of the bisected MetRS. Anl-labeled proteins can be tagged with fluorescent dyes or affinity reagents via either copper-catalyzed or strain-promoted azide-alkyne cycloaddition. Protein labeling is apparent within 5 min after addition of Anl to bacterial cells in which the AND gate has been activated. This method allows spatial and temporal control of proteomic labeling and identification of proteins made in specific cellular subpopulations. The approach is demonstrated by selective labeling of proteins in bacterial cells immobilized in the center of a laminar-flow microfluidic channel, where they are exposed to overlapping, opposed gradients of inducers of the N- and C-terminal MetRS fragments. The observed labeling profile is predicted accurately from the strengths of the individual input signals.
Microfluidics is a convenient platform to study the influences of fluid shear stress on calcium dynamics. Fluidic shear stress has been proven to affect bone cell functions and remodelling. We have developed a microfluidic system which can generate four shear flows in one device as a means to study cytosolic calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)](c)) dynamics of osteoblasts. Four shear forces were achieved by having four cell culture chambers with different widths while resistance correction channels compensated for the overall resistance to allow equal flow distribution towards the chambers. Computational simulation of the local shear stress distribution highlighted the preferred section in the cell chamber to measure the calcium dynamics. Osteoblasts showed an [Ca(2+)](c) increment proportional to the intensity of the shear stress from 0.03 to 0.30 Pa. A delay in response was observed with an activation threshold between 0.03 and 0.06 Pa. With computational modelling, our microfluidic device can offer controllable multishear stresses and perform quantitative comparisons of shear stress-induced intensity change of calcium in osteoblasts.
Although the ciliate Tetrahymena is a good model for the study of chemotaxis, its profound motility makes it difficult to monitor intracellular calcium (Ca(2+)) changes induced by chemotactic stimuli. In this study, we report a microfluidic-based chemotaxis system generating directional chemotactic gradients under highly viscous conditions, suppressing T. pyriformis motility, and allowing for the stable confocal imaging of changes in intracellular Ca(2+) in the ciliate. Once the viscous condition was achieved, directional chemical gradients were formed inside the center chamber via the release of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), a known chemoattractant, from the surrounding chemical reservoirs into the center chamber. As a result, intracellular Ca(2+) in the ciliate increased up to three-fold, and its distribution was skewed in the direction of NMDA stimulation. However, the Ca(2+) in ciliates pretreated with phospholipase C (PLC) or phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) blockers did not increase even after stimulation. Additionally, the PI3K blocker induced the secretion of granules, the size of which was dependent on the concentration of the blocker. Collectively, the results indicate that both PLC and PI3K perform pivotal roles in controlling the levels of intracellular Ca(2+) in T. pyriformis during chemotaxis.
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