Speaker: Professor Sindy KY TANG
Institution: Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
and by courtesy of Bioengineering and Radiology (Precision Health and Integrated Diagnostics)
Stanford University, USA
Hosted By: Professor Hongkai WU
Wound healing is an essential biological process for maintaining homeostasis and, ultimately, for survival. Cells, such as skeletal muscles, are wounded regularly under physiological conditions. Understanding wound response at the single-cell level is critical for determining fundamental cellular functions needed for cell repair and survival, and ultimately, how wound-induced diseases develop. We aim to investigate the mechanisms underlying single-cell wound healing, by employing a microfluidic platform and using Stentor coeruleus as a model organism. Stentor coeruleus, a single cell capable of recovering from drastic wounds within 24 hours, is selected as a model because of its robust wound healing capacity, which extends to very large wounds, and the ability to perform gene knockdown experiments in a high throughput manner compared with other cellular wound-healing models. As such, a range of new biological questions about cellular function can be answered by developing Stentor as a model organism. Nevertheless, key barriers to answering these questions are the lack of a tool that can introduce wounds reproducibly to a large number of cells and a quantitative assay to measure healing efficiency. This talk focuses on our recent effort on developing a microfluidic platform for the manipulation of the cell and the reproducible wounding of the cell. We demonstrate a microfluidic method for bisecting single cells in a continuous flow with a cutting throughput >200x faster than current methods. It enables new studies such as time-course mechanistic and RNAi measurements requiring >100 cells prepared in a synchronized stage of their repair process. We further discuss the adaptation of the tool for dissecting multicellular structures such as organoids.