Single-Cell Virology: On-Chip Investigation of Viral Infection Dynamics

Feng Guo, Sixing Li, Mehmet Umut Caglar, Zhangming Mao, Wu Liu, Andrew Woodman, Jamie J. Arnold, Claus O. Wilke, Tony Jun Huang, Craig E. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


We have developed a high-throughput, microfluidics-based platform to perform kinetic analysis of viral infections in individual cells. We have analyzed thousands of individual poliovirus infections while varying experimental parameters, including multiplicity of infection, cell cycle, viral genotype, and presence of a drug. We make several unexpected observations masked by population-based experiments: (1) viral and cellular factors contribute uniquely and independently to viral infection kinetics; (2) cellular factors cause wide variation in replication start times; and (3) infections frequently begin later and replication occurs faster than predicted by population measurements. We show that mutational load impairs interaction of the viral population with the host, delaying replication start times and explaining the attenuated phenotype of a mutator virus. We show that an antiviral drug can selectively extinguish the most-fit members of the viral population. Single-cell virology facilitates discovery and characterization of virulence determinants and elucidation of mechanisms of drug action eluded by population methods. Guo et al. use a microfluidics device installed on a fluorescence microscope to monitor the kinetics of viral infection in single cells. Between-cell variation in outcomes of infection exists at all phases of the life cycle. Cellular gene expression governs the eclipse phase; viral genetics govern replication rate and yield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1692-1704
Number of pages13
JournalCell Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 7 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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