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Open Access Publications from the University of California

On a Robust, Sensitive Cell-Free Method for Pseudomonas Sensing and Quantification in Microfluidic Templated Hydrogels


Through the use of droplet microfluidics to integrate cell-free activity into inert hydrogel beads, we have developed a platform that can perform biologically relevant functions without the need for cells. Specifically, cell-free lysates serve a utility in performing cellular functions and providing biologically relevant metabolic products without requiring the optimal biological conditions for cell growth and proliferation. By teasing out specific biological components that enable transcription and translation to occur, these cell-like functions can be reconstituted in vitro without requiring the entire cell and milieu of cellular organelles. This enables the optimization of synthetic biological circuits, either by concentration or logic switches, simply through the addition or removal of genetic components (plasmids, inducers, or repressors) of regulatory elements. Here, we demonstrate an application of cell-free processes that is robust and portable, independent of a substrate, to apply for sensing and reporting functions of a quorum-sensing molecule N-3-oxododecanoyl homoserine lactone (3OC12HSL) found crucial for pathological Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. We develop an agarose bead platform that is easily adaptable and simply programmable to fit a variety of biological and chemical sensing applications for the utility of ease of delivery and activation in remote environments-even in conditions with very little hydration.

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