A microfluidic “baby machine” for cell synchronization†
Common techniques used to synchronize eukaryotic cells in the cell cycle often impose metabolic stress on the cells or physically select for size rather than age. To address these deficiencies, a minimally perturbing method known as the “baby machine” was developed previously. In the technique, suspension cells are attached to a membrane, and as the cells divide, the newborn cells are eluted to produce a synchronous population of cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. However, the existing “baby machine” is only suitable for cells which can be chemically attached to a surface. Here, we present a microfluidic “baby machine” in which cells are held onto a surface by pressure differences rather than chemical attachment. As a result, our method can in principle be used to synchronize a variety of cell types, including cells which may have weak or unknown surface attachment chemistries. We validate our microfluidic “baby machine” by using it to produce a synchronous population of newborn L1210 mouse lymphocytic leukemia cells in G1 phase.