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Biomicrofluidics. 2011 Dec;5(4):44117-4411713. doi: 10.1063/1.3669371. Epub 2011 Dec 15.

Microwell perfusion array for high-throughput, long-term imaging of clonal growth.


Continuous cell tracking by time-lapse microscopy has led to detailed study of cell differentiation pathways using single cell fate maps. There are a multitude of cell fate outcomes, so hundreds of clonal division histories are required to measure these stochastic branching processes. This study examines the principle of condensing cell imaging information into a relatively small region to maximize live cell imaging throughput. High throughput clonal analysis of non-adherent cells by continuous live cell tracking was possible using a microwell perfusion array with an internal volume of 16 μl and 600 microwells at the base. This study includes examination of biocompatibility of buffer systems, connecting tubing, cell culture substrates, and media degradation. An intermittent perfusion protocol was selected for long-term time-lapse imaging of KG1a cells in the microwell array; 1500 clones were simultaneously cultured and scanned every 3 min at 100 × magnifications for 6 days. The advantages of perfusion microwell culture are continuous long-term cell tracking, higher cell imaging throughput, and greater control over cell microenvironment. Microwell devices facilitate high throughput analysis of cell lineage development and measurement of the probability distribution for cell life events such as mitosis.

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