Integrated microfluidic bioprocessor for single-cell gene expression analysis
An integrated microdevice is developed for the analysis of gene expression in single cells. The system captures a single cell, transcribes and amplifies the mRNA, and quantitatively analyzes the products of interest. The key components of the microdevice include integrated nanoliter metering pumps, a 200-nL RT-PCR reactor with a single-cell capture pad, and an affinity capture matrix for the purification and concentration of products that is coupled to a microfabricated capillary electrophoresis separation channel for product analysis. Efficient microchip integration of these processes enables the sensitive and quantitative examination of gene expression variation at the single-cell level. This microdevice is used to measure siRNA knockdown of the GAPDH gene in individual Jurkat cells. Single-cell measurements suggests the presence of 2 distinct populations of cells with moderate (≈50%) or complete (≈0%) silencing. This stochastic variation in gene expression and silencing within single cells is masked by conventional bulk measurements.