Spatial gradients of diffusible signalling molecules play crucial roles in controlling diverse cellular behaviour such as cell differentiation, tissue patterning and chemotaxis. In this paper, we report the design and testing of a microfluidic device for diffusion-based gradient generation for cellular assays. A unique channel design of the device eliminates cross-flow between the source and sink channels, thereby stabilizing gradients by passive diffusion. The platform also enables quick and flexible control of chemical concentration that makes highly dynamic gradients in diffusion chambers. A model with the first approximation of diffusion and surface adsorption of molecules recapitulates the experimentally observed gradients. Budding yeast cells cultured in a gradient of a chemical inducer expressed a reporter fluorescence protein in a concentration-dependent manner. This microfluidic platform serves as a versatile prototype applicable to a broad range of biomedical investigations.
Saka, Y., MacPherson, M., & Giuraniuc, C. V. (2017). Generation and precise control of dynamic biochemical gradients for cellular assays. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, 470, 132-145.