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0 Q&A 3457 Views Nov 20, 2019
Capturing single cells from large heterogenous populations based solely on observable traits is necessary for many cell biology applications and remains a major technical challenge. The protocol we present allows the isolation of viable and metabolically active cells selected for their shape, migration speed, contact to other cells, or intracellular protein localization. We previously introduced a method termed Cell Labeling via Photobleaching (CLaP) for the efficient tagging of cells chosen for visual criteria. Here we describe a new protocol for capturing such cells using ferromagnetic beads termed single-cell magneto-optical capture (scMOCa). This technology is especially useful when the number of target cells represents an extremely low fraction of the total population (potentially one single cell), a situation in which conventional sorting techniques like fluorescent or magnetic activated cell sorting (F/MACS) cannot provide satisfactory results in terms of capture efficiency and specificity. scMOCa uses the lasers of a confocal microscope to photobleach and crosslink biotin-4-fluorecein molecules to cell membranes. Streptavidin coated magnetic beads then adhere to biotin moieties and a magnet allows the capture of illuminated cells. By precisely controlling liquid volumes and spacing between the different parts of a simple setup, high cell selectivity and capture efficacy can be achieved. scMOCA allows visual selection and isolation of any number of cells in a microscopy field and captured cells remain viable to generate new colonies of chosen phenotypes for downstream analyses.

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