Cell Sampling 

Andy Tay, Eytham Souibgui, Amanda Jonsson

Cell content analysis has rapidly become one of the most important new tools for measuring cell phenotype and behavior. However, the central limitation of current sampling technologies is they are destructive, and must lyse the cells to measure the contents. This prevents knowledge of prior or future states of the cell, which is particularly important for dynamic cells processes such as development and differentiation. We are investigating non-destructive sampling and analysis methods that can repeatedly and accurately sample from the same single cell or group of cells over a long time period. REcent results have demonstrated sampling of both proteins and mRNA for cell lines as well as human derived cardiomyocytes and astrocytes. Moving forward, we hope to follow the time course and development of cellular transformation.

Image 1: The nanostraw electroporation system. Cells are cultured onto membrane with alumina straw protrusions where they adhere and grow healthily. Electrical fields can be applied to either deliver or extract cargoes such as proteins, DNA and mRNA into/out of the cells.

Image 2: Longitudinal mRNA sensing from the same iPSC cardiomyocytes over three days, demonstrating non-destructive sampling and analysis.

Image 3: Longitudinal sampling of fluorescent proteins over time. Bottom shows the extracted contents matched the fluorescently detected contents. 


1. "Nondestructive nanostraw intracellular sampling for longitudinal cell monitoring." Yuhong Cao, Martin Hjort, Haodong Chen, Fikri Birey, Sergio A. Leal-Ortiz, Crystal M. Han, Juan G. Santiago, Sergiu P. Pasca, Joseph C. Wu, and Nicholas A. Melosh. PNAS. 114, pp. 1866-1874 (2017)