With rapid development of Molecular and Cellular Biology, we know more about what's in a cell but still know little about how cells interact among populations. Cell-Cell Interactions form a complicated signaling network which is far beyond our imagination. Traditional method to study cell communication is cell coculture facing multiple variables changing which is time-consuming.
To revolutionize coculture method, we build a "time-saving machine" to study cell signaling networks based on genetically engineered Two-Cell system, a Secreting and a Responding cell. Wnt signaling pathway is one part of intercellular signaling networks. For proof-of-principle,Wnt secreting cells are genetically modified for genetic screening and Wnt responding cells are inserted a TCF-GFP reporter construct for signal visualization.
The “time-saving machine” is a microfluidic double emulsion system. A secreting cell and a responding cell were encapsulated by the microfluidic system producing thousands of Two-Cell droplets at a time. Unlike traditional coculture method, this is time-saving. It is the first time to use high-throughput microfluidic systems for encapsulation of two mammalian cells in a microdroplets for cell coculture. The project results can be found here.
We build mathematical models of the genetic network in Wnt secretion and signaling, improving the understanding of the pathways as well as guiding experimental design.