Paper-based microreactor array for rapid screening of cell signaling cascades
Investigation of cell signaling pathways is important for the study of pathogenesis of cancer. However, the related operations used in these studies are time consuming and labor intensive. Thus, the development of effective therapeutic strategies may be hampered. In this work, gel-free cell culture and subsequent immunoassay has been successfully integrated and conducted in a paper-based microreactor array. Study of the activation level of different kinases of cells stimulated by different conditions, i.e., IL-6 stimulation, starvation, and hypoxia, was demonstrated. Moreover, rapid screening of cell signaling cascades after the stimulations of HGF, doxorubicin, and UVB irradiation was respectively conducted to simultaneously screen 40 kinases and transcription factors. Activation of multi-signaling pathways could be identified and the correlation between signaling pathways was discussed to provide further information to investigate the entire signaling network. The present technique integrates most of the tedious operations using a single paper substrate, reduces sample and reagent consumption, and shortens the time required by the entire process. Therefore, it provides a first-tier rapid screening tool for the study of complicated signaling cascades. It is expected that the technique can be developed for routine protocol in conventional biological research laboratories.