Analysis of gap junctional intercellular communications using a dielectrophoresis-based microchip

Eur J Cell Biol. 2017 Mar;96(2):110-118. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcb.2017.01.003. Epub 2017 Feb 6.


Gap junctions are transmembrane structures that directly connect the cytoplasm of adjacent cells, making intercellular communications possible. It has been shown that the behaviour of several tumours - such as bone tumours - is related to gap junction intercellular communications (GJIC). Several methodologies are available for studying GJIC, based on measuring different parameters that are useful for multiple applications, such as the study of carcinogenesis for example. These methods nevertheless have several limitations. The present manuscript describes the setting up of a dielectrophoresis (DEP)-based lab-on-a-chip platform for the real-time study of Gap Junctional Intercellular Communication between osteosarcoma cells and the main cells accessible to their microenvironment. We conclude that using the DEParray technology for the GJIC assessment has several advantages comparing to current techniques. This methodology is less harmful for cells integrity; cells can be recovered after interaction to make further molecular analysis; it is possible to study GJIC in real time; we can promote cell interactions using up to five different populations. The setting up of this new methodology overcomes several difficulties to perform experiments for solving questions about GJIC process that we are not able to do with current technics.

Keywords: Bone microenvironment; Dielectrophoresis device; Gap junctional intercellular communication.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Electrophoresis, Microchip / instrumentation*
  • Electrophoresis, Microchip / methods*
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Osteoblasts / cytology
  • Osteosarcoma / pathology
  • Time-Lapse Imaging / methods