We have developed an on-chip single-cell based microcultivation method for analyzing the variability of genetic information stored in single cells and their epigenetic correlations. The method uses four systems: an on-chip cell sorter for purifying the cells in a non-destructive manner; an on-chip single-cell cultivation chip for isolating single cells; an on-chip agarose microchamber system for constructive cell-cell network formation during cultivation; and an on-chip single-cell-based expression analysis system. Using these systems, we could measure the variability of prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells having the same DNA and found that, although prokaryotic cells have a large variability in their interdivision times, sister eukaryotic cells having the same DNA synchronized well. We also measured the dynamics of synchronization of beating cardiac myocytes and found that two isolated cells synchronize by one cell following the other after a short pause in beating. These results showed the potential of the on-chip microcultivation method's constructive approach to analyzing cell systems.
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