Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorter
Flow Cytometry allows high-throughput, single-cell investigation. Routinely used in the Microbial Cell Dynamics Laboratory (MCDL) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), it rapidly interrogates bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cell populations on a single-cell basis. Fluorescent-activated cell sorting (FACS) has become an indispensable tool in biology. Recent technical advances allow fine resolution between cell types by measuring many optical parameters in parallel. FACS provides the ability to separate a heterogeneous suspension of cells into a purified fraction on the basis of fluorescence and light scattering properties.
PNNL is one of a handful of laboratories in the world that uses flow cytometry to isolate and characterize antibodies. PNNL was the first to create an immense library of nonimmune antibodies to be displayed on the surface of the yeast, Saccharonmyces cerevisiae. One advantage of displaying antibodies on the surface of a yeast cell is its compatibility with flow cytometry. This unique combination of technologies allows antibodies present in this library, which bind particular antigens of interest to the investigator, to be readily isolated after addition of fluorescently labeled antigen.
To facilitate this research, PNNL has purchased the latest in flow cytometers, the FACS-ARIA from BD Biosciences. This state-of-the-art equipment provides a single-cell sorting capability at a rate of up to 70,000 events onto a variety of formats. PNNL will use the FACS-ARIA to quantitate, analyze, and isolate cells of interest. The increased speed and sensitivity available with this instrument will allow PNNL researchers to develop high-throughput methodologies to meet the challenges of the DOE's Genomics: Genomes to Life (GTL) program.