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Biosens Bioelectron. 2005 Jul 15;21(1):111-20.

Frog melanophores cultured on fluorescent microbeads: biomimic-based biosensing.

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  • 1Division of Applied Physics, Department of Physics and Measurement Technology, Linköping University, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden.


Melanophores are pigmented cells in lower vertebrates capable of quick color changes and thereby suitable as whole cell biosensors. In the frog dermis skin layer, the large and dark pigmented melanophore surrounds a core of other pigmented cells. Upon hormonal stimulation the black-brown pigment organelles will redistribute within the melanophore, and thereby cover or uncover the core, making complex color changes possible in the dermis. Previously, melanophores have only been cultured on flat surfaces. Here we mimic the three dimensional biological geometry in the frog dermis by culturing melanophores on fluorescent plastic microbeads. To demonstrate biosensing we use the hormones melatonin and alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) as lightening or darkening stimuli, respectively. Cellular responses were successfully demonstrated on single cell level by fluorescence microscopy, and in cell suspension by a fluorescence microplate reader and a previously demonstrated computer screen photo-assisted technique. The demonstrated principle is the first step towards "single well/multiple read-out" biosensor arrays based on suspensions of different selective-responding melanophores, each cultured on microbeads with distinctive spectral characteristics. By applying small amount of a clinical sample, or a candidate substance in early drug screening, to a single well containing combinations of melanophores on beads, multiple parameter read-outs will be possible.

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