Lab on a Chip
An integrated microfluidic device for multiplexed imaging of spatial gene expression patterns of Drosophila embryos
Hongcun Zhu, Wenting Shen, Chunxiong Luo and Feng Liu
To reveal the underlying mechanism of the biological function of multicellular systems, it is important to obtain comprehensive spatial gene expression profiles. Among the emerging single-cell spatial-omics techniques, immunofluorescence (IF)-based iterative multiplexed imaging is a promising approach. However, the conventional method is usually costly, time-consuming, labor-intensive, and has low throughput. Moreover, it has yet to be demonstrated in intact multicellular organisms. Here, we developed an integrated microfluidic system to overcome these challenges for quantitatively measuring multiple protein profiles sequentially in situ in the same Drosophila embryo. We designed an array of hydrodynamic trapping sites to automatically capture over ten Drosophila embryos with orientation selectivity at more than 90% trapping rates. We also optimized the geometry of confinement and the on-chip IF protocol to achieve the same high signal-to-noise ratio as the off-chip traditional IF experiments. Moreover, we developed an efficient de-staining protocol by combining on-chip antibody stripping and fluorophore bleaching. Using the same secondary antibody to sequentially stain different genes, we confirmed that the de-stained genes have no detectable interference with the subsequently stained genes, and the gene expression profiles are preserved after multiple cycles of staining and de-staining processes. This preliminary test shows that our newly developed integrated microfluidic system can be a powerful tool for multiplexed imaging of Drosophila embryos. Our work opens a new avenue to design microfluidic chips for multicellular organisms and single-cell spatial-omics techniques.