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PLoS One. 2009 Oct 28;4(10):e7088. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007088.

Human cell chips: adapting DNA microarray spotting technology to cell-based imaging assays.

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  • 1Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA.


Here we describe human spotted cell chips, a technology for determining cellular state across arrays of cells subjected to chemical or genetic perturbation. Cells are grown and treated under standard tissue culture conditions before being fixed and printed onto replicate glass slides, effectively decoupling the experimental conditions from the assay technique. Each slide is then probed using immunofluorescence or other optical reporter and assayed by automated microscopy. We show potential applications of the cell chip by assaying HeLa and A549 samples for changes in target protein abundance (of the dsRNA-activated protein kinase PKR), subcellular localization (nuclear translocation of NFkappaB) and activation state (phosphorylation of STAT1 and of the p38 and JNK stress kinases) in response to treatment by several chemical effectors (anisomycin, TNFalpha, and interferon), and we demonstrate scalability by printing a chip with approximately 4,700 discrete samples of HeLa cells. Coupling this technology to high-throughput methods for culturing and treating cell lines could enable researchers to examine the impact of exogenous effectors on the same population of experimentally treated cells across multiple reporter targets potentially representing a variety of molecular systems, thus producing a highly multiplexed dataset with minimized experimental variance and at reduced reagent cost compared to alternative techniques. The ability to prepare and store chips also allows researchers to follow up on observations gleaned from initial screens with maximal repeatability.

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