ATP-responsive mitochondrial probes for monitoring metabolic processes of glioma stem cells in a 3D model†
The metastatic cascade of cancer stem cells (CSCs) is always accompanied by elevated levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as well as the alterntion of energy metabolism to support their differentiation and migration. Here we propose a 3D microfluidic tumor model coupled with an ATP-responsive mitochondrial probe (AMP) for investigation of metabolic processes of glioma stem cells (GSCs). The 3D tumor model has a middle matrix gel microchannel mimicking the extracellular matrix (ECM), which is sandwiched between a GSC culture chamber and a stimulation chamber. The AMPs consist of structure-switching ATP aptamers and triphenylphosphonium (TPP)-conjugated peptide nucleic acids (PNAs). Under TGF-β stimulation, invasive migration of GSCs accompanied by a high ATP level and spindle mesenchymal morphologies is observed due to the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Moreover, acidic stress can keep GSCs in a low-energy state, while long-term low pH stimulation screens out more malignant glioma cells. This AMP-assisted 3D microfluidic tumor model provides a tremendous opportunity for studying the biological properties of CSCs.