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In vitro motility assays are readily used to simplify the complex environments within the cell and in muscle tissue. These assays have afforded considerable insight into the fundamentals of their underlying biophysics, interactions with cargo, intracellular regulation, and motor cooperation/competition. 

Extension of the standard in vitro motility assay into a more automated and cost-effective fluidic design while providing availability to the scientific community without expertise in lithographic fabrication is critical for the continued advancement of the field. In this work, we utilized a standard plasma cleaner to oxidize the widely prevalent material polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) to create flow cells that could be used for in vitro motility assays. Our analysis indicated that a 40 min pre-treatment of the PDMS with plasma exposure resulted in optimal bundle motility. 

This finding was attributed to the condition at which the least amount of oxygen permeates the PDMS slab, enters the motility buffer, and oxidizes the motor proteins. Based on these findings, we developed a method for constructing microfluidic devices from glass and plasma-treated PDMS molds in which motility could be observed.

This article originally appeared in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 7, 2014, Pages 687–694.

Click here to find out more about Plasma cleaning and surface activation.


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