Next generation of electrical cellular biosensor combined with high-resolution fluorescence microscopy

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Embargoed until 2024-10-27
Copyright: Arman, Seyedyousef
Impedance cellular biosensors are amongst a promising type of label-free technologies in providing ongoing insights into physiological function of cells over a period ranging from several minutes to several days. However, detection of a highly specific biomolecular event using traditional impedance assays is technically challenging. The nature of impedance signal relies on the changes in the local ionic environment at the interface, providing many biochemical events at once lacking biomolecular specificity. The next decade is then likely to witness an interest in using developed impedance assays. Impedance-quartz crystal microbalance (QCM), impedance-surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy (SPR), and impedance-optical microscopy are the hybrid approaches that have been employed in the field. Integrating impedance biosensors to another sensing method, in particular new microscopies that enable identification of cellular structures and processes with a high degree of specificity, enhances the potential of traditional assays by providing additional relevant information. Herein an effective approach for accurate interpretation of impedance signal is presented. By development of optical/electrical multi-electrode chips, light was utilized for direct visualization of cell structures and processes on the surface of the microelectrode. It was essential to achieve both high throughput electrical results and high-resolution microscopy images to detect the transient changes inside the cells. Therefore, the strategy of simultaneous dual sensing was developed in three main steps. For the establishment of a reliable dual sensing readout, it was essential to use a commercial biosensing device (known as xCELLigence) in the first step. This approach enabled to compare the electrical results of developed dual biosensing device and a commercial device (as a high throughput assay for electrical measurement of subtle changes within the cell monolayer). The highly sensitive measurement of commercial device also made it possible to investigate the ongoing mechanism behind receptor/ligand activation. The signalling pathway was determined by using different pharmacological inhibitors. In a separate parallel experiment, fluorescence microscopy was used to visualise the specificity of histamine/HeLa cell interaction which was coupled to intracellular calcium rise. While it is assumed these two processes are connected, this could not be determined definitively by the sole biosensing device application. In the second step it was necessary to develop a setup with the capability of data acquisition in both the high throughput electrical setup and high-resolution fluorescence microscopy on a single platform. The first material of choice for the fabrication of this biosensor was ITO because of its electrical conductivity and optical transparency. It was shown that contribution of cells to the overall signal on the surface of ITO depends on the parameters including sensing area and width of microfingers. Furthermore, comparing the ITO results with the identical gold microelectrode revealed the ITO severely lacked sensitivity compared to gold. This was due to a better penetration of the electric field within the cell layer on the gold surface. The addition of a viewing window made a dual sensing readout possible on the gold microelectrode. Finally, the finding were used to maximize the system efficiency and precision for the detection of minute change of cells to the drug. The reduction of the microfingers down to the single cell level led to a more efficient distribution of electric field within cell monolayer. A high density of gold electrode arrays also increased the chance of individual cells blocking the current which was desirable. The added value of the developed biosensor was illustrated by studying GPCR activation in a more thorough manner using simultaneous fluorescence microscopy. The simultaneous optical/electrical experiment was performed as a powerful approach to translate specific intracellular biomolecular event contributing to the morphological changes in cell/drug interaction.
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Arman, Seyedyousef
Gooding, Justin
Tilley, Richard David
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PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty