Cellular Invasion Assay for the Real-Time Tracking of Individual Cells in Spheroid or Tumor-like Mimics
Cellular invasion is the gateway to metastasis, with cells moving from a primary tumor into neighboring regions of healthy tissue. Invasion assays provide a tractable experimental platform to quantitatively assess cellular movement in the presence of potential chemokines or inhibitors. Many such assays involve cellular movement from high cell densities to cell-free regions. To improve the physiological relevance of such assays, we developed an assay format to track cellular movement throughout a uniform density of cells. This assay format imparts diffusion-dominated environments along the channel, resulting in oxygen and nutrient gradients found in spheroids or poorly vascularized tumors. By incorporating oxygen- and pH-sensing films, we quantified spatial and temporal changes in the extracellular environment while simultaneously tracking the movement of a subset of cells engineered to express fluorescent proteins constitutively. Our results show the successful invasion into neighboring tissues likely arises from a small population with a highly invasive phenotype. These highly invasive cells continued to move throughout the 48 h experiment, suggesting they have stem-like or persister properties. Surprisingly, the distance these persister cells invaded was unaffected by the density of cells in the channel or the presence or absence of an oxygen gradient. While these datasets cannot determine if the invasive cells are inherent to the population or if diffusion-dominated environments promote them, they highlight the need for further study.
Cellular Invasion Assay for the Real-Time Tracking of Individual Cells in Spheroid or Tumor-like Mimics Rachael M. Kenney, Maggie C. Lee, Matthew W. Boyce, Zachary R. Sitte, and Matthew R. Lockett Analytical Chemistry 2023 95 (5), 3054-3061 DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.2c05201