Microfluidic Technology for Low-Input Epigenomic Analysis
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Epigenetic modifications, such as DNA methylation and histone modifications, play important roles in gene expression and regulation, and are highly involved in cellular processes such as stem cell pluripotency/differentiation and tumorigenesis. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) is the technique of choice for examining in vivo DNA-protein interactions and has been a great tool for studying epigenetic mechanisms. However, conventional ChIP assays require millions of cells for tests and are not practical for examination of samples from lab animals and patients. Automated microfluidic chips offer the advantage to handle small sample sizes and facilitate rapid reaction. They also eliminate cumbersome manual handling. In this report, I will talk about three different projects that utilized microfluidic immunoprecipitation followed by next genereation sequencing technologies to enable low input and high through epigenomics profiling. First, I examined RNA polymerase II transcriptional regulation with microfluidic chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by next generation sequencing (ChIP-seq) assays. Second, I probed the temporal dynamics in the DNA methylome during cancer development using a transgenic mouse model with microfluidic methylated DNA immunoprecipitation followed by next generation sequencing (MeDIP-seq) assays. Third, I explored negative enrichment of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) followed by microfluidic ChIP-seq technology for studying temporal dynamic histone modification (H3K4me3) of patient-derived tumor xenograft on an immunodeficient mouse model during the course of cancer metastasis. In the first study, I adapted microfluidic ChIP-seq devices to achieve ultrahigh sensitivity to study Pol2 transcriptional regulation from scarce cell samples. I dramatically increased the assay sensitivity to an unprecedented level (~50 K cells for pol2 ChIP-seq). Importantly, this is three orders of magnitude more sensitive than the prevailing pol2 ChIP-seq assays. I showed that MNase digestion provided better ChIP-seq signal than sonication, and two-steps fixation with MNase digestion provided the best ChIP-seq quality followed by one-step fixation with MNase digestion, and lastly, no fixation with MNase digestion. In the second study, I probed dynamic epigenomic changes during tumorigenesis using mice often require profiling epigenomes using a tiny quantity of tissue samples. Conventional epigenomic tests do not support such analysis due to the large amount of materials required by these assays. In this study, I developed an ultrasensitive microfluidics-based methylated DNA immunoprecipitation followed by next-generation sequencing (MeDIP-seq) technology for profiling methylomes using as little as 0.5 ng DNA (or ~100 cells) with 1.5 h on-chip process for immunoprecipitation. This technology enabled me to examine genome-wide DNA methylation in a C3(1)/SV40 T-antigen transgenic mouse model during different stages of mammary cancer development. Using this data, I identified differentially methylated regions and their associated genes in different periods of cancer development. Interestingly, the results showed that methylomic features are dynamic and change with tumor developmental stage. In the last study, I developed a negative enrichment of CTCs followed by ultrasensitive microfluidic ChIP-seq technology for profiling histone modification (H3K4Me3) of CTCs to resolve the technical challenges associated with CTC isolation and difficulties related with tools for profiling whole genome histone modification on tiny cell samples.
- Doctoral Dissertations