Digital microfluidics for time-resolved cytotoxicity studies on single non-adherent yeast cells
Single cell analysis (SCA) has gained increased popularity for elucidating cellular heterogeneity at genomic, proteomic and cellular levels. Flow cytometry is considered as one of the most widely used techniques to characterize single cell responses; however, its inability to analyse cells with spatio-temporal resolution poses a major drawback. Here, we introduce a digital microfluidic (DMF) platform as a useful tool for conducting studies on isolated yeast cells in a high-throughput fashion. The reported system exhibits (i) a microwell array for trapping single non-adherent cells by shuttling a cell-containing droplet over the array, and allows (ii) implementation of high-throughput cytotoxicity assays with enhanced spatio-temporal resolution. The system was tested for five different concentrations of the antifungal drug Amphotericin B, and the cell responses were monitored over time by time lapse fluorescence microscopy. The DMF platform was validated by bulk experiments, which mimicked the DMF experimental design. A correlation analysis revealed that the results obtained on the DMF platform are not significantly different from those obtained in bulk; hence, the DMF platform can be used as a tool to perform SCA on non-adherent cells, with spatio-temporal resolution. In addition, no external forces, other than the physical forces generated by moving the droplet, were used to capture single cells, thereby avoiding cell damage. As such, the information on cellular behaviour during treatment could be obtained for every single cell over time making this platform noteworthy in the field of SCA.