Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 402, Issue 3, pp 1065–1072 | Cite as

Trapping cells on a stretchable microwell array for single-cell analysis

  • Yuli Wang
  • Pavak Shah
  • Colleen Phillips
  • Christopher E. Sims
  • Nancy L. Allbritton
Original Paper


There is a need for a technology that can be incorporated into routine laboratory procedures to obtain a continuous, quantitative, fluorescence-based measurement of the dynamic behaviors of numerous individual living cells in parallel, while allowing other manipulations, such as staining, rinsing, and even retrieval of targeted cells. Here, we report a simple, low-cost microarray platform that can trap cells for dynamic single-cell analysis of mammalian cells. The elasticity of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) was utilized to trap tens of thousands of cells on an array. The PDMS microwell array was stretched by a tube through which cells were loaded on the array. Cells were trapped on the array by removal of the tube and relaxation of the PDMS. Once that was accomplished, the cells remained trapped on the array without continuous application of an external force and permitted subsequent manipulations, such as staining, rinsing, imaging, and even isolation of targeted cells. We demonstrate the utility of this platform by multicolor analysis of trapped cells and monitoring in individual cells real-time calcium flux after exposure to the calcium ionophore ionomycin. Additionally, a proof of concept for target cell isolation was demonstrated by using a microneedle to locally deform the PDMS membrane in order to retrieve a particular cell from the array.


Bioanalytical methods Cell systems/single-cell analysis Biochips/high-throughput screening 

Supplementary material

216_2011_5535_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (592 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 592 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuli Wang
    • 1
  • Pavak Shah
    • 2
    • 3
  • Colleen Phillips
    • 1
  • Christopher E. Sims
    • 1
  • Nancy L. Allbritton
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.North Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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