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1.  Automated Operation of Immiscible Filtration Assisted by Surface Tension (IFAST) Arrays for Streamlined Analyte Isolation 
Journal of laboratory automation  2012;18(3):206-211.
The purification of analytes is an important prerequisite for many analytical processes. Although automated infrastructure has dramatically increased throughput for many of these processes, the upstream analyte purification throughput has lagged behind, partially due to the complexity of conventional isolation processes. Here, we demonstrate automated operation of arrays of a new sample preparation technology—immiscible filtration assisted by surface tension (IFAST). IFAST uses surface tension to position an immiscible liquid barrier between a biological sample and downstream buffer. Paramagnetic particles are used to capture analytes of interest and draw them across the immiscible barrier, thus resulting in purification in a single step. Furthermore, the planarity of the IFAST design enables facile and simultaneous operation of multiple IFAST devices. To demonstrate the application of automation to IFAST, we successfully perform an array of 48 IFAST-based assays to detect the presence of a specific antibody. This assay array uses only a commercial automated liquid handler to load the devices and a custom-built magnet actuator to operate the assays. Automated operation of the IFAST devices resulted in more repeatable results relative to manual operation.
PMCID: PMC3633642  PMID: 23015519
sample preparation; immiscible phase; microfluidics; purification; high throughput
2.  Calcium sparks in the intact gerbil spiral modiolar artery 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:15.
Calcium sparks are ryanodine receptor mediated transient calcium signals that have been shown to hyperpolarize the membrane potential by activating large conductance calcium activated potassium (BK) channels in vascular smooth muscle cells. Along with voltage-dependent calcium channels, they form a signaling unit that has a vasodilatory influence on vascular diameter and regulation of myogenic tone. The existence and role of calcium sparks has hitherto been unexplored in the spiral modiolar artery, the end artery that controls blood flow to the cochlea. The goal of the present study was to determine the presence and properties of calcium sparks in the intact gerbil spiral modiolar artery.
Calcium sparks were recorded from smooth muscle cells of intact arteries loaded with fluo-4 AM. Calcium sparks occurred with a frequency of 2.6 Hz, a rise time of 17 ms and a time to half-decay of 20 ms. Ryanodine reduced spark frequency within 3 min from 2.6 to 0.6 Hz. Caffeine (1 mM) increased spark frequency from 2.3 to 3.3 Hz and prolonged rise and half-decay times from 17 to 19 ms and from 20 to 23 ms, respectively. Elevation of potassium (3.6 to 37.5 mM), presumably via depolarization, increased spark frequency from 2.4 to 3.2 Hz. Neither ryanodine nor depolarization changed rise or decay times.
This is the first characterization of calcium sparks in smooth muscle cells of the spiral modiolar artery. The results suggest that calcium sparks may regulate the diameter of the spiral modiolar artery and cochlear blood flow.
PMCID: PMC3170618  PMID: 21871098
3.  Biological implications of polydimethylsiloxane-based microfluidic cell culture† 
Lab on a chip  2009;9(15):2132-2139.
Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) has become a staple of the microfluidics community by virtue of its simple fabrication process and material attributes, such as gas permeability, optical transparency, and flexibility. As microfluidic systems are put toward biological problems and increasingly utilized as cell culture platforms, the material properties of PDMS must be considered in a biological context. Two properties of PDMS were addressed in this study: the leaching of uncured oligomers from the polymer network into microchannel media, and the absorption of small, hydrophobic molecules (i.e. estrogen) from serum-containing media into the polymer bulk. Uncured PDMS oligomers were detectable via MALDI-MS in microchannel media both before and after Soxhlet extraction of PDMS devices in ethanol. Additionally, PDMS oligomers were identified in the plasma membranes of NMuMG cells cultured in PDMS microchannels for 24 hours. Cells cultured in extracted microchannels also contained a detectable amount of uncured PDMS. It was shown that MCF-7 cells seeded directly on PDMS inserts were responsive to hydrophilic prolactin but not hydrophobic estrogen, reflecting its specificity for absorbing small, hydrophobic molecules; and the presence of PDMS floating in wells significantly reduced cellular response to estrogen in a serum-dependent manner. Quantification of estrogen via ELISA revealed that microchannel estrogen partitioned rapidly into the surrounding PDMS to a ratio of approximately 9:1. Pretreatments such as blocking with serum or pre-absorbing estrogen for 24 hours did not affect estrogen loss from PDMS-based microchannels. These findings highlight the importance of careful consideration of culture system properties when determining an appropriate environment for biological experiments.
PMCID: PMC2792742  PMID: 19606288

Results 1-3 (3)