Automated Capillary-Based Vacuum Pulse-Assisted Instrument for Single-Cell Acquisition and Concurrent Detachment/Adhesion Assay, A-picK

SLAS Technol. 2021 Oct;26(5):519-531. doi: 10.1177/2472630320987219. Epub 2021 Feb 20.


A large body of evidence points to the importance of cell adhesion molecules in cancer metastasis. Alterations in adhesion and attachment properties of neoplastic cells are important biomarkers of the metastatic potential of cancer. Loss of intracellular adhesion is correlated with more invasive phenotype by increasing the chances of malignant cells escaping from their site of origin, promoting metastasis. Therefore, there is great demand for rapid and accurate measurements of individual cell adhesion and attachment. Current technologies that measure adhesion properties in either suspension or bulk (microfluidics) remain very complex (e.g., atomic force microscopy [AFM], optical tweezers). Moreover, existing tools cannot provide measurements for fully attached individual adherent cells as they operate outside of such a force range. Even more importantly, none of the existing approaches permit concurrent and automated single-cell adhesion measurement and collection, which prohibits direct correlation between single-cell adhesion properties and molecular profile. Here, we report a fully automated and versatile platform, A-picK, that offers single-cell adhesion assay and isolation in parallel. We demonstrate the use of this approach for a time course analysis of human lung carcinoma A549 cells and substrate-specific adhesion potential using seven different substrates, including fibronectin, laminin, poly-l-lysine, carboxyl, amine, collagen, and gelatin.

Keywords: adhesion; cell collection; detachment; single cell; single-cell adhesion assay; single-cell collection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion
  • Humans
  • Microfluidics*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Vacuum