We have developed a microfluidic platform that enables, in one experiment, monitoring of signaling events spanning multiple time-scales and cellular locations through seamless integration of cell culture, stimulation and preparation with downstream analysis. A combination of two single-cell resolution techniques-on-chip multi-color flow cytometry and fluorescence imaging provides multiplexed and orthogonal data on cellular events. Automated, microfluidic operation allows quantitatively- and temporally-precise dosing leading to fine time-resolution and improved reproducibility of measurements. The platform was used to profile the toll-like receptor (TLR4) pathway in macrophages challenged with lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-beginning with TLR4 receptor activation by LPS, through intracellular MAPK signaling, RelA/p65 translocation in real time, to TNF-α cytokine production, all in one small macrophage population (< 5000 cells) while using minute reagent volume (540 nL/condition). The platform is easily adaptable to many cell types including primary cells and provides a generic platform for profiling signaling pathways.
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