A High-Throughput Microfluidic Platform for Mammalian Cell Transfection and Culturing
Mammalian synthetic biology could be augmented through the development of high-throughput microfluidic systems that integrate cellular transfection, culturing, and imaging. We created a microfluidic chip that cultures cells and implements 280 independent transfections at up to 99% efficiency. The chip can perform co-transfections, in which the number of cells expressing each protein and the average protein expression level can be precisely tuned as a function of input DNA concentration and synthetic gene circuits can be optimized on chip. We co-transfected four plasmids to test a histidine kinase signaling pathway and mapped the dose dependence of this network on the level of one of its constituents. The chip is readily integrated with high-content imaging, enabling the evaluation of cellular behavior and protein expression dynamics over time. These features make the transfection chip applicable to high-throughput mammalian protein and synthetic biology studies.