Measurement of the mechanical properties of single Synechocystis sp. strain PCC6803 cells in different osmotic concentrations using a robot-integrated microfluidic chip†
Synechocystis sp. strain PCC6803 (Synechocystis) is a model microorganism and its mechanosensitive (MS) channels play important roles in its osmoadaptation mechanism. When the osmotic concentration of the culture environment changes, the inner pressure of the cell also changes due to the transportation of water through ion channels. Because the tension in the cell membrane relates to the inner pressure, we expect that the response of the MS channels to an osmotic concentration change could be evaluated by measuring their mechanical properties. Here, we propose a system for the measurement of the mechanical properties of a single Synechocystis cell. We developed a robot-integrated microfluidic chip combined with optical tweezers. The chip has an external actuated pushing probe and a force sensor probe. A single cell was located between the tip of both probes using the optical tweezers and was then deformed using the probes. As a result, we could measure the force and deformation and compare the Young's moduli of two groups: a group of wild type cells and a group of mutant (genetically modified) cells with a defect in the MS channels, at three different osmotic concentrations. The results showed that the Young's modulus of each group changed according to the osmotic concentration, while changes in cell size were too small to be detected. These results confirmed that the proposed evaluation method provides an understanding of the physiological function of MS channels for keeping the cell integrity of microorganisms when the cells are exposed to different external osmotic changes.