This paper describes a microfluidic quenched flow platform for the investigation of ligand-mediated cell surface processes with unprecedented temporal resolution. A roll–slip behavior caused by cell–wall–fluid coupling was documented and acts to minimize the compression and shear stresses experienced by the cell. This feature enables high-velocity (100–400 mm/s) operation without impacting the integrity of the cell membrane. In addition, rotation generates localized convection paths. This cell-driven micromixing effect causes the cell to become rapidly enveloped with ligands to saturate the surface receptors. High-speed imaging of the transport of a Janus particle and fictitious domain numerical simulations were used to predict millisecond-scale biochemical switching times. Dispersion in the incubation channel was characterized by microparticle image velocimetry and minimized by using a horizontal Hele–Shaw velocity profile in combination with vertical hydrodynamic focusing to achieve highly reproducible incubation times (CV = 3.6%). Microfluidic quenched flow was used to investigate the pY1131 autophosphorylation transition in the type I insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-1R). This predimerized receptor undergoes autophosphorylation within 100 ms of stimulation. Beyond this demonstration, the extreme temporal resolution can be used to gain new insights into the mechanisms underpinning a tremendous variety of important cell surface events.
- microfluidic quenched flow
- temporal resolution