A high-throughput platform for stem cell niche co-cultures and downstream gene expression analysis.

In order to determine the underlying mechanisms of a broad range of issues related to human health and disease, it is important to first understand how somatic stem cells self-renew and differentiate to produce the functional cells of the resident tissue, as stem cells reside in niches where support cells provide signaling critical for tissue renewal. Magness and colleagues demonstrated the use of the CellRaft® Technology to prove that Paneth cells (PC), a known intestinal stem cell (ISC) niche component, enhance organoid formation in a contact-dependent manner. CellRafts® were used to facilitate retrieval of early enteroids for qPCR to correlate functional properties, such as enteroid morphology, with differences in gene expression. This platform enabled the study of a large number of single ISCs simultaneously, either at the clonal level or in the presence of niche cells, with multi-day, three-dimensional culture in extracellular matrices applied directly to the CytoSort™ Arrays. The authors found that direct cell-to-cell contact between ISCs and PCs is required for enhanced ISC growth.