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Controlled production of sub-millimeter liquid core hydrogel capsules for parallelized 3D cell culture
Hugo Doméjean, Mathieu de la Motte Saint Pierre, Anette Funfak, Nicolas Atrux-Tallau, Kevin Alessandri, Pierre Nassoy, Jérôme Bibettea and Nicolas Bremond
Lab. Chip - 17, 110-119 - DOI: 10.1039/C6LC00848H - 2017
Liquid core capsules having a hydrogel membrane are becoming a versatile tool for three-dimensional culture of micro-organisms and mammalian cells. Making sub-millimeter capsules at a high rate, via the breakup of a compound jet in air, opens the way to high-throughput screening applications. However, control of the capsule size monodispersity, especially required for quantitative bioassays, was still lacking. Here, we report how the understanding of the underlying hydrodynamic instabilities that occur during the process can lead to calibrated core–shell bioreactors. The requirements are: i) damping the shear layer instability that develops inside the injector arising from the co-annular flow configuration of liquid phases having contrasting viscoelastic properties; ii) controlling the capillary instability of the compound jet by superposing a harmonic perturbation onto the shell flow; iii) avoiding coalescence of drops during jet fragmentation as well as during drop flight towards the gelling bath; iv) ensuring proper engulfment of the compound drops into the gelling bath for building a closed hydrogel shell. We end up with the creation of numerous identical compartments in which cells are able to form multicellular aggregates, namely spheroids. In addition, we implement an intermediate composite hydrogel layer, composed of alginate and collagen, allowing cell adhesion and thus the formation of epithelia or monolayers of cells.
Information-theoretic analysis of the directional influence between cellular processes
Sourabh Lahiri, Philippe Nghe, Sander J. Tans, Martin Luc Rosinberg, David Lacoste
- 12(11) - https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187431 - 2017
Inferring the directionality of interactions between cellular processes is a major challenge in systems biology. Time-lagged correlations allow to discriminate between alternative models, but they still rely on assumed underlying interactions. Here, we use the transfer entropy (TE), an information-theoretic quantity that quantifies the directional influence between fluctuating variables in a model-free way. We present a theoretical approach to compute the transfer entropy, even when the noise has an extrinsic component or in the presence of feedback. We re-analyze the experimental data from Kiviet et al. (2014) where fluctuations in gene expression of metabolic enzymes and growth rate have been measured in single cells of E. coli. We confirm the formerly detected modes between growth and gene expression, while prescribing more stringent conditions on the structure of noise sources. We furthermore point out practical requirements in terms of length of time series and sampling time which must be satisfied in order to infer optimally transfer entropy from times series of fluctuations.
Single-cell deep phenotyping of IgG-secreting cells for high-resolution immune monitoring
Eyer K, Doineau RCL, Castrillon CE, Briseño-Roa L, Menrath V, Mottet G, England P, Godina A, Brient-Litzler E, Nizak C, Jensen A, Griffiths AD, Bibette J, Bruhns P4, Baudry J.
Nat Biotechnol. - 35(10) 977-982 - doi: 10.1038/nbt.3964 - 2017
Studies of the dynamics of the antibody-mediated immune response have been hampered by the absence of quantitative, high-throughput systems to analyze individual antibody-secreting cells. Here we describe a simple microfluidic system, DropMap, in which single cells are compartmentalized in tens of thousands of 40-pL droplets and analyzed in two-dimensional droplet arrays using a fluorescence relocation-based immunoassay. Using DropMap, we characterized antibody-secreting cells in mice immunized with tetanus toxoid (TT) over a 7-week protocol, simultaneously analyzing the secretion rate and affinity of IgG from over 0.5 million individual cells enriched from spleen and bone marrow. Immunization resulted in dramatic increases in the range of both single-cell secretion rates and affinities, which spanned at maximum 3 and 4 logs, respectively. We observed differences over time in dynamics of secretion rate and affinity within and between anatomical compartments. This system will not only enable immune monitoring and optimization of immunization and vaccination protocols but also potentiate antibody screening.
Emergence of a catalytic tetrad during evolution of a highly active artificial aldolase.
Obexer R, Godina A, Garrabou X, Mittl PR, Baker D, Griffiths AD, Hilvert D.
Nat Chem. - 9(1) 50-56 - doi: 10.1038/nchem.2596 - 2017
Designing catalysts that achieve the rates and selectivities of natural enzymes is a long-standing goal in protein chemistry. Here, we show that an ultrahigh-throughput droplet-based microfluidic screening platform can be used to improve a previously optimized artificial aldolase by an additional factor of 30 to give a >109 rate enhancement that rivals the efficiency of class I aldolases. The resulting enzyme catalyses a reversible aldol reaction with high stereoselectivity and tolerates a broad range of substrates. Biochemical and structural studies show that catalysis depends on a Lys-Tyr-Asn-Tyr tetrad that emerged adjacent to a computationally designed hydrophobic pocket during directed evolution. This constellation of residues is poised to activate the substrate by Schiff base formation, promote mechanistically important proton transfers and stabilize multiple transition states along a complex reaction coordinate. The emergence of such a sophisticated catalytic centre shows that there is nothing magical about the catalytic activities or mechanisms of naturally occurring enzymes, or the evolutionary process that gave rise to them.
Topological and thermodynamic factors that influence the evolution of small networks of catalytic RNA species.
Yeates JAM, Nghe P, Lehman N.
RNA. - 23(7) 1088-1096 - doi: 10.1261/rna.061093.117 - 2017
An RNA-directed recombination reaction can result in a network of interacting RNA species. It is now becoming increasingly apparent that such networks could have been an important feature of the RNA world during the nascent evolution of life on the Earth. However, the means by which such small RNA networks assimilate other available genotypes in the environment to grow and evolve into the more complex networks that are thought to have existed in the prebiotic milieu are not known. Here, we used the ability of fragments of the Azoarcus group I intron ribozyme to covalently self-assemble via genotype-selfish and genotype-cooperative interactions into full-length ribozymes to investigate the dynamics of small (three- and four-membered) networks. We focused on the influence of a three-membered core network on the incorporation of additional nodes, and on the degree and direction of connectivity as single new nodes are added to this core. We confirmed experimentally the predictions that additional links to a core should enhance overall network growth rates, but that the directionality of the link (a "giver" or a "receiver") impacts the growth of the core itself. Additionally, we used a simple mathematical model based on the first-order effects of lower-level interactions to predict the growth of more complex networks, and find that such a model can, to a first approximation, predict the ordinal rankings of nodes once a steady-state distribution has been reached.
Synthesis of new hydrophilic rhodamine based enzymatic substrates compatible with droplet-based microfluidic assays
Johan Fenneteau, Dany Chauvin,b Andrew D. Griffiths,b Clément Nizak,b and Janine Cossy
Chem. Comm. - 53 5437-5440 - DOI: 10.1039/C7CC01506B - 2017
Here we report the conception, synthesis and evaluation of new hydrophilic rhodamine-based enzymatic substrates for detection of peptidase activity compatible with high-throughput screening using droplet-based microfluidics.
Droplet-based microfluidic high-throughput screening of heterologous enzymes secreted by the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica
Beneyton T, Thomas S, Griffiths AD, Nicaud JM, Drevelle A, Rossignol T.
Microb Cell Fact. - 16(1) 18 - doi: 10.1186/s12934-017-0629-5. - 2017
BACKGROUND:
Droplet-based microfluidics is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative to microtiter plate techniques for enzymatic high-throughput screening (HTS), especially for exploring large diversities with lower time and cost footprint. In this case, the assayed enzyme has to be accessible to the substrate within the water-in-oil droplet by being ideally extracellular or displayed at the cell surface. However, most of the enzymes screened to date are expressed within the cytoplasm of Escherichia coli cells, which means that a lysis step must take place inside the droplets for enzyme activity to be assayed. Here, we take advantage of the excellent secretion abilities of the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica to describe a highly efficient expression system particularly suitable for the droplet-based microfluidic HTS.
RESULTS:
Five hydrolytic genes from Aspergillus niger genome were chosen and the corresponding five Yarrowia lipolytica producing strains were constructed. Each enzyme (endo-β-1,4-xylanase B and C; 1,4-β-cellobiohydrolase A; endoglucanase A; aspartic protease) was successfully overexpressed and secreted in an active form in the crude supernatant. A droplet-based microfluidic HTS system was developed to (a) encapsulate single yeast cells; (b) grow yeast in droplets; (c) inject the relevant enzymatic substrate; (d) incubate droplets on chip; (e) detect enzymatic activity; and (f) sort droplets based on enzymatic activity. Combining this integrated microfluidic platform with gene expression in Y. lipolytica results in remarkably low variability in the enzymatic activity at the single cell level within a given monoclonal population (<5%). Xylanase, cellobiohydrolase and protease activities were successfully assayed using this system. We then used the system to screen for thermostable variants of endo-β-1,4-xylanase C in error-prone PCR libraries. Variants displaying higher thermostable xylanase activities compared to the wild-type were isolated (up to 4.7-fold improvement).
CONCLUSIONS:
Yarrowia lipolytica was used to express fungal genes encoding hydrolytic enzymes of interest. We developed a successful droplet-based microfluidic platform for the high-throughput screening (105 strains/h) of Y. lipolytica based on enzyme secretion and activity. This approach provides highly efficient tools for the HTS of recombinant enzymatic activities. This should be extremely useful for discovering new biocatalysts via directed evolution or protein engineering approaches and should lead to major advances in microbial cell factory development.
Sign epistasis caused by hierarchy within signalling cascades.
Nghe P, Kogenaru M, Tans SJ.
Nat Commun - 9(1) 1451. - doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03644-8 - 2017
Sign epistasis is a central evolutionary constraint, but its causal factors remain difficult to predict. Here we use the notion of parameterised optima to explain epistasis within a signalling cascade, and test these predictions in Escherichia coli. We show that sign epistasis arises from the benefit of tuning phenotypic parameters of cascade genes with respect to each other, rather than from their complex and incompletely known genetic bases. Specifically, sign epistasis requires only that the optimal phenotypic parameters of one gene depend on the phenotypic parameters of another, independent of other details, such as activating or repressing nature, position within the cascade, intra-genic pleiotropy or genotype. Mutational effects change sign more readily in downstream genes, indicating that optimising downstream genes is more constrained. The findings show that sign epistasis results from the inherent upstream-downstream hierarchy between signalling cascade genes, and can be addressed without exhaustive genotypic mapping.
Particle Deposition Kinetics of Colloidal Suspensions in Microchannels at High Ionic Strength
Cesare M. Cejas, Fabrice Monti, Marine Truchet, Jean-Pierre Burnouf, and Patrick Tabeling
Langmuir - 33, 36 6471-6480 - DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b01394 - 2017
Despite its considerable practical importance, the deposition of real Brownian particles transported in a channel by a liquid, at small Reynolds numbers, has never been described at a comprehensive level. Here, by coupling microfluidic experiments, theory, and numerics, we succeed in unravelling the problem for the case of straight channels at high salinity. We discover a broad regime of deposition (the van der Waals regime) in which particle–wall van der Waals interactions govern the deposition mechanism. We determine the range of existence of the regime, for which we calculate the concentration profiles, retention profiles, and deposition kinetics analytically. The retention profiles decay as the inverse of the square root of the distance from the entry, and the deposition kinetics are given by the expression , where S is a dimensionless deposition function, A is the Hamaker constant, and ξL is a dimensionless parameter characterizing fluid flow properties. These findings are well supported by numerics. Experimentally, we find that the retention profiles behave as x–0.5±0.1 (where x is the distance from the channel entry) over three decades in scale, as predicted theoretically. By varying the flow conditions (speed, geometry, surface properties, and concentration) so as to cover four decades in ξL and taking the Hamaker constant as a free parameter, we accurately confirm the theoretical expression for the deposition kinetics. Operating in the van der Waals regime enables control of the deposition rates via surface chemistry. From a surface science perspective, working in the van der Waals regime enables us to measure the Hamaker constants of thousands of particles in a few minutes, a task that would take a much longer time to perform with standard AFM.
Roughness of oxide glass subcritical fracture surfaces
Gael Pallares , Frederic Lechenault, Matthieu George, Elisabeth Bouchaud, Cédric Ottina, Cindy L. Rountree, Matteo Ciccotti ,
Phys. Chem. - 101 (3) 1279-1288 - DOI : 10.1111/jace.15262 - 2017
An original setup combining a very stable loading stage, an atomic force microscope and an environmental chamber, allows to obtain very stable sub-critical fracture propagation in oxide glasses under controlled environment, and subsequently to finely characterize the nanometric roughness properties of the crack surfaces. The analysis of the surface roughness is conducted both in terms of the classical root mean square roughness to compare with the literature, and in terms of more physically adequate indicators related to the self-affine nature of the fracture surfaces. Due to the comparable nanometric scale of the surface roughness, the AFM tip size and the instrumental noise, a special care is devoted to the statistical evaluation of the metrologic properties. The 2 roughness amplitude of several oxide glasses was shown to decrease as a function of the stress intensity factor, to be quite insensitive to the relative humidity and to increase with the degree of heterogeneity of the glass. The results are discussed in terms of several modeling arguments concerning the coupling between crack propagation, material's heterogeneity, crack tip plastic deformation and water diffusion at the crack tip. A synthetic new model is presented combining the predictions of a model by Wiederhorn et al. [1] on the effect of the material's heterogeneity on the crack tip stresses with the self-affine nature of the fracture surfaces.

289 publications.