Microfluidic platforms for Transcriptomics and Epigenomics
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A cell, the building block of all life, stores a plethora of information in its genome, epigenome, and transcriptome which needs to be analyzed via various Omic studies. The heterogeneity in a seemingly similar group of cells is an important factor to consider and it could lead us to better understand processes such as cancer development and resistance to treatment, fetal development, and immune response. There is an ever growing demand to be able to develop more sensitive, accurate and robust ways to study Omic information and to analyze subtle biological variation between samples even with limited starting material obtained from a single cell. Microfluidics has opened up new and exciting possibilities that have revolutionized how we study and manipulate the contents of the cell like the DNA, RNA, proteins, etc. Microfluidics in conjunction with Next Gen Sequencing has provided ground-breaking capabilities for handling small sample volumes and has also provided scope for automation and multiplexing. In this thesis, we discuss a number of platforms for developing low-input or single cell Omic technologies. The first part talks about the development of a novel microfluidic platform to carry out single-cell RNA-sequencing in a one-pot method with a diffusion-based reagent swapping scheme. This platform helps to overcome the limitations of conventional microfluidic RNA seq methods reported in literature that use complicated multiple-chambered devices. It also provides good quality data that is comparable to state-of-the-art scRNA-seq methods while implementing a simpler device design that permits multiplexing. The second part talks about studying the transcriptome of innate leukocytes treated with varying levels of LPS and using RNA-seq to observe how innate immune cells undergo epigenetic reprogramming to develop phenotypes of memory cells. The third part discusses a low-cost alternative to produce tn5 enzyme which low-cost NGS studies. And finally, we discuss a microfluidic approach to carrying out low-input epigenomic studies for studying transcription factors. Today, single-cell or low-input Omic studies are rapidly moving into the clinical setting to enable studies of patient samples for personalized medicine. Our approaches and platforms will no doubt be important for transcriptomic and epigenomic studies of scarce cell samples under such settings.
- Doctoral Dissertations