A fucosyltransferase inhibition assay using image-analysis and digital microfluidics

Biomicrofluidics. 2019 May 10;13(3):034106. doi: 10.1063/1.5088517. eCollection 2019 May.


Sialyl-LewisX and LewisX are cell-surface glycans that influence cell-cell adhesion behaviors. These glycans are assembled by α(1,3)-fucosyltransferase enzymes. Their increased expression plays a role in inflammatory disease, viral and microbial infections, and cancer. Efficient screens for specific glycan modifications such as those catalyzed by fucosyltransferases are tended toward costly materials and large instrumentation. We demonstrate for the first time a fucosylation inhibition assay on a digital microfluidic system with the integration of image-based techniques. Specifically, we report a novel lab-on-a-chip approach to perform a fluorescence-based inhibition assay for the fucosylation of a labeled synthetic disaccharide, 4-methylumbelliferyl β-N-acetyllactosaminide. As a proof-of-concept, guanosine 5'-diphosphate has been used to inhibit Helicobacter pylori α(1,3)-fucosyltransferase. An electrode shape (termed "skewed wave") is designed to minimize electrode density and improve droplet movement compared to conventional square-based electrodes. The device is used to generate a 10 000-fold serial dilution of the inhibitor and to perform fucosylation reactions in aqueous droplets surrounded by an oil shell. Using an image-based method of calculating dilutions, referred to as "pixel count," inhibition curves along with IC50 values are obtained on-device. We propose the combination of integrating image analysis and digital microfluidics is suitable for automating a wide range of enzymatic assays.