Cell reprogramming (for example, conversion of skin cells into stem cells) holds great promise for regenerative medicine such as replacement-cell therapy and patient-specific drug screening. However, the efficiency of reprogramming is hampered by poor understanding on the mechanisms. Here we propose to develop optofluidic controls of cellular communications and molecular imaging of the reprogramming dynamics in a large scale integrated platform. First, two millions of single stem cells and fibroblasts can be paired by microfluidic devices. Then, the joined cell membranes can be transiently fused by optofluidic controls using biomolecular plasmonic optical antennas. The plasmonic optical excitation will increase the permeability of plasma membrane to allow transportation of reprogramming factors from stem cells to fibroblasts. Furthermore, the dynamics of fluorescence-tagged factors are measured in suit by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. Finally, three dimensional cell images at single molecule resolution are recorded. This platform will provide a solution to find the pathway of cellular signaling in cell reprogramming with high precision and can contribute to create optofluidic biological microprocessors for efficient cell reprogramming.
Project end date: 08/18/11