Flow-Through Electroporation in Asymmetric Curving Microfluidic Channels
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Electroporation is an efficient, low-toxic physical method which is used to deliver impermeant macromolecules such as genes and drugs into cells. Genetic modification of the cell is critical for many cell and gene therapy techniques. Common electroporation protocols can only handle small volumes of cell samples. Also, most of the conventional electroporation methods require expensive and sophisticated electro-pulsation equipment. In our lab, we have developed new electroporation methods conducted in microfluidic devices. In microfluidic-base electroporation, exogenous macromolecules can be delivered into cells continuously. Flow-through electroporation systems can overcome the issue of low sample volume limitation. In addition, in our method, electro-pulsation can be done by using a simple dc power supply, without the need for any extra equipment. Furthermore, our microfluidic chips are completely disposable and cheap to produce. We show that electroporation and electroporation-based gene delivery can be conducted employing tapered asymmetric curving channels. The size variation in the channel's cross-sectional area makes it possible to produce electric pulses of various parameters by using a dc power supply. We successfully delivered Enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein, EGFP, plasmid DNA into Chinese Hamster Ovary, CHO-K1, cells in our microfluidic chips. We show that the particles/cells undergo Dean flow in our asymmetric curving channels. We demonstrate that there are three main regimes for particle motion in our channels. At low flow rates (from 0 to ~75μl/min) cells do not focus and they randomly follow stream lines. However, as flow rate increases (~75 to 500μl/min), cells begin to focus into one line and they follow a single path throughout the micro-channel. When flow rate exceeds ~500μl/min, cells do not follow a single line and demonstrate more complex pattern. We show that the electric parameters affect the transfection efficiency and cell viability. Higher electric field intensity results in higher transfection efficiency. This is also true in the cases with longer electroporation duration time. In our experimental work, we executed flow-through electroporation for various duration times (t = 2 ms, 5 ms, and 7 ms), and at various electric field intensities (from 300 to 2200 V/cm) while we utilized different flow rates as well, i. e. 150 μl/min (focused flow) and 600 μl/min (complex flow). To explore the impact of individual electric pulse length and electric pulse number on electroporation results, we designed control channels with straight narrow sections. Cells experience different hydrodynamic forces in straight channels compared to curving channels. Flow pattern and cell focusing were also studied in control channels as well. Also, electroporation on CHO-K1 cells was successfully conducted in control channels. The hydrodynamic forces under the conditions we used do not appear to show substantial impact on transfection efficiency.
- Masters Theses