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Automated and controlled mechanical stimulation and functional imaging in vivo in C. elegans


C. elegans is a useful genetic model system for investigating mechanisms involved in sensory behavior, potentially relevant to human diseases. While utilities of advanced techniques such as microfluidics have accelerated some areas of C. elegans sensory biology such as chemosensation, studies of mechanosensation conventionally require immobilization by glue and manual delivery of stimuli, leading to low experimental throughput and high variability. Here we present a microfluidic platform that delivers precise a wide range of mechanical stimuli robustly, and can also be used in conjunction with functional imaging and optical interrogation techniques. The platform is fully automated, thereby greatly enhancing the throughput and robustness of experiments. We show that behavior of the well-known gentle and harsh touch neurons and their receptive fields can be recapitulated. Using calcium dynamics as a readout, we demonstrate the ability to perform a drug screen in vivo. Furthermore, using an integrated chip, we can deliver both mechanical and chemical stimuli precisely; we examine sensory integration in interneurons in response to multimodal sensory inputs, which would have been impractical using currently available methodologies. We envision that this system will be able to greatly accelerate the discovery of genes and molecules involved in mechanosensation and multimodal sensory behavior, as well as the discovery of therapeutics for related diseases.

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Publication details

The article was received on 28 Apr 2017, accepted on 13 Jun 2017 and first published on 13 Jun 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7LC00465F
Citation: Lab Chip, 2017, Accepted Manuscript
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    Automated and controlled mechanical stimulation and functional imaging in vivo in C. elegans

    Y. Cho, D. Porto, H. Hwang, L. Grundy, W. R. Schafer and H. Lu, Lab Chip, 2017, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C7LC00465F

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