Sample loss and contamination are critical preanalytical pitfalls in microscale proteomic applications of nonadhering cells. Common assays and workflows are not easily adoptable to microscale sample sizes of suspension cells due to inadvertent sample loss. This impedes preanalytical experimental manipulation of limited suspension cell samples for microscale proteomics applications, such as encountered for primary human materials. Here, we describe and test a simple manual batch technique for single-step 100-fold concentration of scarce numbers of diluted suspension cells (down to 5000 cells) by volume reduction, facilitating microscale experiments with suspension cells. Pipette tips with heat-sealed orifices (SpinTips) are manufactured within 1 min and serve as versatile microcentrifugation vessels from which supernatant can be aspirated with minimal cell loss. A residual volume of approximately 3 μL can be achieved without visualization of the cell pellet. The results show that SpinTips enable the concentration, medium exchange, washing, and culture of highly limited amounts of suspension cells for functional manipulation and microscale proteomics and are readily incorporated into standard workflows. The application is illustrated by profiling ex vivo responses of primary acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells from one AML patient to daunorubicin (DNR) to a depth of 3462 quantified proteins with excellent repeatability.
Keywords: cell concentration; microscale proteomics; preanalytical sample loss; sample concentration; suspension cells; volume reduction.