Fluorogenic Cell-Based Biosensors for Monitoring Microbes
Fluorogenic cell-based sensor systems for detecting microbes (especially pathogenic ones) and some toxins and allergens are undergoing development. These systems harness the natural signaltransduction and amplification cascades that occur in mast cells upon activation with antigens. These systems include (1) fluidic biochips for automated containment of samples, reagents, and wastes and (2) sensitive, compact fluorometers for monitoring the fluorescent responses of mast cells engineered to contain fluorescent dyes. It should be possible to observe responses within minutes of adding immune complexes. The systems have been shown to work when utilizing either immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies or traditionally generated rat antibodies — a promising result in that it indicates that the systems could be developed to detect many target microbes. Chimeric IgE antibodies and rat immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies could be genetically engineered for recognizing biological and chemical warfare agents and airborne and food-borne allergens. Genetic engineering efforts thus far have yielded (1) CD14 chimeric antibodies that recognize both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and bind to the surfaces of mast cells, eliciting a degranulation response and (2) rat IgG2a antibodies that act similarly in response to low levels of canine parvovirus.