Universal signal generator for dynamic cell stimulation†
Dynamic cell stimulation is a powerful technique for probing gene networks and for applications in stem cell differentiation, immunomodulation and signaling. We developed a robust and flexible method and associated microfluidic devices to generate a wide-range of precisely formulated dynamic chemical signals to stimulate live cells and measure their dynamic response. This signal generator is capable of digital to analog conversion (DAC) through combinatoric selection of discrete input concentrations, and outperforms existing methods by both achievable resolution, dynamic range and simplicity in design. It requires no calibration, has minimal space requirements and can be easily integrated into microfluidic cell culture devices. The signal generator hardware and software we developed allows to choose the waveform, period and amplitude of chemical input signals and features addition of well-defined chemical noise to study the role of stochasticity in cellular information processing.