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Cancer Research

A Method of Targeted Cell Isolation via Glass Surface Functionalization

Published: September 20th, 2016



1Department of Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2Department of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 3Department of Biomedical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology

This protocol describes customizable surface functionalization of the desthiobiotin, streptavidin, and APTES system in order to isolate specific cell types of interest. In addition, this manuscript covers the applications, optimization, and verification of this process.

One of the limiting factors to the adoption and advancement of personalized medicine is the inability to develop diagnostic tools to probe individual nuances in expression from patient to patient. Current methodologies that try to separate cells to fill this niche result in disruption of physiological expression, making the separation technique useless as a diagnostic tool. In this protocol, we describe the functionalization and optimization of a surface for the cellular capture and release. This functionalized surface integrates biotinylated antibodies with a glass surface functionalized with an aminosilane (APTES), desthiobiotin and streptavidin. Cell release is facilitated through the introduction of biotin, allowing the recollection and purification of cells captured by the surface. This release is done through the targeting of the secondary moiety desthiobiotin, which results in a much more gentle release paradigm. This reduction in harsh reagents and shear forces reduces changes in cellular expression. The functionalized surface captures up to 80% of cells in a single cell mixture and has demonstrated 50% capture in a dual-cell mixture. Applications of this technology to xenografts and cancer separation studies are investigated. Quantification techniques for surface verification such as plate reader and ImageJ analyses are described as well.

Current bench-top cell separation approaches (e.g., fluorescence activated cell sorting1, laser capture micro-dissection2, immuno-magnetic bead separation1) can take several hours of preparation and sorting. These large time scales can affect physiological response and expression levels, resulting in analyses that are not representative of the physiological response3. Systems are needed that can rapidly and efficiently isolate specific cell types without disrupting cell-surface receptor-levels in order to improve cell isolation and enrichment for biomedical applications. Therefore, the rationale for our approach is ....

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1. Cleaning the Glass Surface and Preparing Reagents

  1. Place a glass surface in an oxygen plasma machine for 5 min at 50% power to clean it.
  2. Prepare 2.5 ml 2% reconstituted (3-aminopropyl) triethoxysilane (APTES) solution, by adding 50 µl of APTES and 2.45 ml of ethanol in a conical tube.

2. APTES and DSB Functionalization

  1. Add APTES solution to the surfaces. Pipette 150 µl per well for 8 well plates. Pipette 100 µl per well for 24 well plat.......

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Using this protocol we show cell capture (Figure 3A) and cell release (Figure 3C) of MCF7GFP cells as well as live cell controls (Figure 4). We quantified the cell capture as 60% and 80% were released (Figure 3C). When we extended this approach to a mixture of RAW 264.7 macrophages and MCF7GFP cells, 50% of RAW macrophages were captured (Fig. 3D) and 80% of RAW macrophages were release with 20 mM biotin (.......

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Improvements in cell isolation techniques furthers scientific studies in structure-function relationships in neuroscience18, stem cell programming in regenerative biology, and angiogenic signaling in vascular biology19. Indeed, primary cell culture20 (e.g., HUVECs) in vascular biology is primarily done through the use of cell isolation techniques. Cell isolation was also recently used for quantitative flow (qFlow) cytometry analysis of plasma membrane receptors3,14,15,19,21<.......

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We would like to thank the American Cancer Society, Illinois Division (282802) and the National Science Foundation CBET (1512598) for funding support. We also would like to thank Dr. Dianwen Zhang from the University of Illinois Beckman Institute for microscopy training. Finally, we would like to thank Jared Weddell, Stacie Chen, and Spencer Mamer for insightful discussions.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
(3-Aminopropyl) triethoxysilane (APTES) Acros Organics 919-30-2 Used to make 2% APTES solution
Plasma Cleaner Pico Diener Model 1 Cleans surfaces and allows for bonding of PDMS to glass
d-Desthiobiotin (DSB) Sigma D20655 Used as the releasing mechanism in the cellular capture surface.
dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) British Drug Houses (BDH) BDH1115-1LP Dissolves the DSB into solution
1-Ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide (EDC) Thermo-Scientific 5g: 22980
25g: 22981
Activates Carboxylic Acids and allows binding of proteins to glass surface.
uncoated 8-well culture slide BD Falcon Case of 24: 354118
Case of 96: 354108
Used in cellular experiments involving Zeiss fluorescence microscope such as initial capture and release quantification experiments
Glass bottom 24-well plates MatTek P24G-0-13-F Used in cellular experiments involving the plate reader such as antibody and cellular titration experiments
Mercaptoethanol Science Lab 60-24-2 Used to quench reaction between EDC and DSB
4-Morpholinoethanesulfonic acid hydrate
(MES Hydrate 99%)
Fisher Scientific AC172590250 Used to make 0.1 M MES Buffer for use in EDC reaction
Precision Oven Thermo Scientific 11-475-153 Used in curing of PDMS and APTES layer.
Titramax 1000 Shaker Heidolph 13-889-420 Used to ensure even distribution of APTES on surfaces.
1X Streptavidin 5mg
Proteo Chem 9013-20-1 Biotin-binding protein
May cause irritation
5 cm Glass Dish Fisher Scientific 08748A Used in HUVEC studies as well as future profiling studies.
14 cm Petri Dish with Cover Sigma-Aldrich Z717231 Used to hold samples being functionalized and transport them.
MCF7-GFP cells Cell Biolabs AKR211 Stored in liquid nitrogen
mouse macrophages
ATCC TIB-71 Gifted to us from Smith lab at the University of Illinois. Stored in liquid nitrogen
TrypLE Life Technologies 12605036 Stored in 100mL at room temperature
Dulbecco’s modified Eagle medium Cell Media Facility at School of Chemical Sciences at UIUC 50003PC Supplier: Corning
Nonessential amino acids Cell Media Facility at School of Chemical Sciences at UIUC 25-025-CI Already added into DMEM by facility.
Supplier: Corning
10% fetal bovine serum Fisher Scientific 03-600-511 Stored in 500mL at < -10⁰C
1% Penicillin–Streptomycin Life Sciences Storeroom at UIUC 17602e Supplier: VWR
Stored in 100 ml at 4⁰C
Cell scraper Fisher Scientific 12-565-58 Small 23cm 50 pack
Cell Dissociation Solution Corning MT-25-056CI Used to lift cells non-enzymatically for the use in cell experiments
Hemacytometer Hausser 02-671-54 Used to count cells for quantification of cell solutions and capture and release effectivity.
Biotin Amresco 58-85-5 Used to release cells from surface.
HBSS Created from Recipe N/A Used to keep cells alive in suspension as well as wash surfaces of non-specific binding. (Adapted from Cold Spring Harbor Protocols): In 500 mL, use 4 g NaCl, .2 g KCl, .0402 g Na2PO4*7H2O, .03 g KH2PO4 and .5 g Glucose. Add DI water to get to 500 mL, filter, and then refrigerate.
HLA-ABC Antibody BioLegend 311402 Antibody used to capture MCF7gfp cells
hIgG Antibody BioLegend HP6017 Antibody used to capture MCF7gfp cells
MCF7 GFP cells Cell Biolabs AKR-211 Luminal Breast Cancer line that has been transfected with green fluorescent protein.
Assorted Conicals Thermo-Scientific 15mL: 12-565-268 50/15 mL plastic conicals for storing solutions and aliquots.
Mini-Tube Rotators (End over End Mixer) Fisher Scientific 05-450-127 Used to incubate antibody and mix other cellular solutions in order to mix
Axiovert 200M (Fluorescence Microscope) Zeiss N/A Zeiss Axiovert 200 M inverted florescence microscope.
Zeba Desalting columns Thermo-Scientific PI-87770 Used to purify newly biotinylated antibodies after the use of the Biotinylation Kit. Instructions provided at:
EZ Link Sulfo NHS Low Weight Biotinylation Kit Thermo- Scientific Used to biotinylate antibodies to allow them to integrate with the capture surface
Plate Reader BioTek Synergy HTX Multimode Reader Used to quantitatively measure fluorescent intensity in the titration experiments.

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