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Microfluidics for Artificial Life: Techniques for Bottom-Up Synthetic Biology
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On-Chip Inverted Emulsion Method for Fast Giant Vesicle Production, Handling, and Analysis

Department of Theory & Bio-Systems, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Science Park Golm, 14424 Potsdam, Germany
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Micromachines 2020, 11(3), 285; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11030285
Received: 5 February 2020 / Revised: 5 March 2020 / Accepted: 6 March 2020 / Published: 10 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microfluidic Applications in Synthetic Biology)
Liposomes and giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) in particular are excellent compartments for constructing artificial cells. Traditionally, their use requires bench-top vesicle growth, followed by experimentation under a microscope. Such steps are time-consuming and can lead to loss of vesicles when they are transferred to an observation chamber. To overcome these issues, we present an integrated microfluidic chip which combines GUV formation, trapping, and multiple separate experiments in the same device. First, we optimized the buffer conditions to maximize both the yield and the subsequent trapping of the vesicles in micro-posts. Captured GUVs were monodisperse with specific size of 18 ± 4 µm in diameter. Next, we introduce a two-layer design with integrated valves which allows fast solution exchange in less than 20 s and on separate sub-populations of the trapped vesicles. We demonstrate that multiple experiments can be performed in a single chip with both membrane transport and permeabilization assays. In conclusion, we have developed a versatile all-in-one microfluidic chip with capabilities to produce and perform multiple experiments on a single batch of vesicles using low sample volumes. We expect this device will be highly advantageous for bottom-up synthetic biology where rapid encapsulation and visualization is required for enzymatic reactions. View Full-Text
Keywords: lab-on-chip; inverted emulsion method; microfluidics; giant vesicles; giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs); bottom-up synthetic biology lab-on-chip; inverted emulsion method; microfluidics; giant vesicles; giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs); bottom-up synthetic biology
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Yandrapalli, N.; Seemann, T.; Robinson, T. On-Chip Inverted Emulsion Method for Fast Giant Vesicle Production, Handling, and Analysis. Micromachines 2020, 11, 285.

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