PloS one

Parallel single cancer cell whole genome amplification using button-valve assisted mixing in nanoliter chambers.

PMID 25233459


The heterogeneity of tumor cells and their alteration during the course of the disease urges the need for real time characterization of individual tumor cells to improve the assessment of treatment options. New generations of therapies are frequently associated with specific genetic alterations driving the need to determine the genetic makeup of tumor cells. Here, we present a microfluidic device for parallel single cell whole genome amplification (pscWGA) to obtain enough copies of a single cell genome to probe for the presence of treatment targets and the frequency of its occurrence among the tumor cells. Individual cells were first captured and loaded into eight parallel amplification units. Next, cells were lysed on a chip and their DNA amplified through successive introduction of dedicated reagents while mixing actively with the help of integrated button-valves. The reaction chamber volume for scWGA 23.85 nl, and starting from 6-7 pg DNA contained in a single cell, around 8 ng of DNA was obtained after WGA, representing over 1000-fold amplification. The amplified products from individual breast cancer cells were collected from the device to either directly investigate the amplification of specific genes by qPCR or for re-amplification of the DNA to obtain sufficient material for whole genome sequencing. Our pscWGA device provides sufficient DNA from individual cells for their genetic characterization, and will undoubtedly allow for automated sample preparation for single cancer cell genomic characterization.