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Biomicrofluidics. 2016 Mar 22;10(2):024114. doi: 10.1063/1.4944742. eCollection 2016 Mar.

Electrical lysis of cells for detergent-free droplet assays.

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Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, University of California San Francisco , San Francisco, California 14958, USA.


Efficient lysis is critical when analyzing single cells in microfluidic droplets, but existing methods utilize detergents that can interfere with the assays to be performed. We demonstrate robust cell lysis without the use of detergents or other chemicals. In our method, cells are exposed to electric field immediately before encapsulation in droplets, resulting in cell lysis. We characterize lysis efficiency as a function of control parameters and demonstrate compatibility with enzymatic assays by measuring the catalysis of β-glucosidase, an important cellulase used in the conversion of biomass to biofuel. Our method enables assays in microfluidic droplets that are incompatible with detergents.

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