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  1. Abstract Background Wound healing is one of the defining features of life and is seen not only in tissues but also within individual cells. Understanding wound response at the single-cell level is critical for determining fundamental cellular functions needed for cell repair and survival. This understanding could also enable the engineering of single-cell wound repair strategies in emerging synthetic cell research. One approach is to examine and adapt self-repair mechanisms from a living system that already demonstrates robust capacity to heal from large wounds. Towards this end, Stentor coeruleus , a single-celled free-living ciliate protozoan, is a unique model because of its robust wound healing capacity. This capacity allows one to perturb the wounding conditions and measure their effect on the repair process without immediately causing cell death, thereby providing a robust platform for probing the self-repair mechanism. Results Here we used a microfluidic guillotine and a fluorescence-based assay to probe the timescales of wound repair and of mechanical modes of wound response in Stentor . We found that Stentor requires ~ 100–1000 s to close bisection wounds, depending on the severity of the wound. This corresponds to a healing rate of ~ 8–80 μm 2 /s, faster than most other single cells reportedmore »in the literature. Further, we characterized three distinct mechanical modes of wound response in Stentor : contraction, cytoplasm retrieval, and twisting/pulling. Using chemical perturbations, active cilia were found to be important for only the twisting/pulling mode. Contraction of myonemes, a major contractile fiber in Stentor , was surprisingly not important for the contraction mode and was of low importance for the others. Conclusions While events local to the wound site have been the focus of many single-cell wound repair studies, our results suggest that large-scale mechanical behaviors may be of greater importance to single-cell wound repair than previously thought. The work here advances our understanding of the wound response in Stentor and will lay the foundation for further investigations into the underlying components and molecular mechanisms involved.« less
  2. Micro-blade design is an important factor in the cutting of single cells and other biological structures. This paper describes the fabrication process of three-dimensional (3D) micro-blades for the cutting of single cells in a microfluidic “guillotine” intended for fundamental wound repair and regeneration studies. Our microfluidic guillotine consists of a fixed 3D micro-blade centered in a microchannel to bisect cells flowing through. We show that the Nanoscribe two-photon polymerization direct laser writing system is capable of fabricating complex 3D micro-blade geometries. However, structures made of the Nanoscribe IP-S resin have low adhesion to silicon, and they tend to peel off from the substrate after at most two times of replica molding in poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS). Our work demonstrates that the use of a secondary mold replicates Nanoscribe-printed features faithfully for at least 10 iterations. Finally, we show that complex micro-blade features can generate different degrees of cell wounding and cell survival rates compared with simple blades possessing a vertical cutting edge fabricated with conventional 2.5D photolithography. Our work lays the foundation for future applications in single cell analyses, wound repair and regeneration studies, as well as investigations of the physics of cutting and the interaction between the micro-blade and biological structures.
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  4. When granular materials, colloidal suspensions, and even animals and crowds exit through a narrow outlet, clogs can form spontaneously when multiple particles or entities attempt to exit simultaneously, thereby obstructing the outlet and ultimately halting the flow. Counterintuitively, the presence of an obstacle upstream of the outlet has been found to suppress clog formation. For soft particles such as emulsion drops, clogging has not been observed in the fast flow limit due to their deformability and vanishing interparticle friction. Instead, they pinch off each other and undergo break up when multiple drops attempt to exit simultaneously. Similar to how an obstacle reduces clogging in a rigid particle system, we hypothesize and demonstrate that an obstacle could suppress break up in the two-dimensional hopper flow of a microfluidic crystal consisting of dense emulsion drops by preventing the simultaneous exit of multiple drops. A regime map plotting the fraction of drops that undergo break up in a channel with different obstacle sizes and locations delineates the geometrical constraints necessary for effective break up suppression. When optimally placed, the obstacle induced an unexpected ordering of the drops, causing them to alternate and exit the outlet one at a time. Droplet break up ismore »suppressed drastically by almost three orders of magnitude compared to when the obstacle is absent. This result can provide a simple, passive strategy to prevent droplet break up and can find use in improving the robustness and integrity of droplet microfluidic biochemical assays as well as in extrusion-based three-dimensional printing of emulsion or foam-based materials.

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