To determine whether our construct is viable under real-world conditions, we had to determine if the construct and its secreted molecules--mono-rhamnolipid and di-rhamnolipid--are compatible with human skin. Verifying in vivo, we used keratinocytes as model cells for a cell viability assay. An MTS assay revealed that rhamnolipids are compatible with keratinocytes with statistical significance. This data suggests that our construct is compatible with human skin.
Determination of rhamnolipid IC50
Keratinocytes, human skin cells, were grown for several days. When the cells were 80% confluent, they were seeded in 24 well plates at a density of 2.5105. The cells were weaned off of antibiotics the following day before they were treated with varying concentrations of rhamnolipids and the reagent MTS. The MTS assay reveals the cell viability of the cells. Using this information, the data was normalized and statistically analyzed to determine the keratinocyte IC50--or the concentration of rhamnolipid that induces 50% cell death. The IC50 was determined to be between 45.19 ug/mL and 65.52 ug/mL. Relating the results to rhamnolipid quantification, the concentration of rhamnolipid the construct produces should not cause significant cell death.
Keratinocyte cell viability bacteria assay
Keratinocytes were co-cultured with different strains of bacteria (Pseudomonas putida, Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAK, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and mutant rhlAB P. putida). Half were cultured in plain DMEM with serum, and half were culture in DMEM with 1 mg/mL mixed mono- and di- rhamnolipids. After co-culturing, the keratinocytes were washed with PBS, exposed to gentamicin in an attempt to kill the bacteria, and incubated in MTS cell viability assay for up to 4 hours and viewed in a plate reader. MTS assay is colorimetric cell viability assay and reacts with NADPH-dependent dehydrogenase enzymes, which are only active in live (metabolically active) cells 1. For the MTS assay, pure media were used as a negative control (100% cell death), and keratinocyte culture with normal DMEM was used as a positive control (“0%” cell death, or the maximum number of cells that could be alive).
We originally tried to do plating experiments to see if keratinocytes internalized any bacteria, but were unable to completely kill off all the bacteria in the keratinocyte supernatant even at extremely high gentamicin concentrations and thus could not get an accurate read.
The results indicate that there is no consistent trend regarding the addition of rhamnolipid and cell viability. Rhamnolipids did not significantly increase or decrease cell viability regardless of the bacteria type as shown in the first figure since the error bars overlap. We hypothesized that the concentration of P. putida would not influence cell viability as it is an environmental strain not nearly as potent as other bacterial strains such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAK. As depicted in the second figure, all MOIs (ranging from 0 to 20) did not significantly influence the cell viability of the strain as shown by the overlapping error bars in the graph. These results overall indicate that our construct may not cause significant cell death once applied to the skin in an acute setting of a few hours.
1 "MTS Cell Proliferation Colorimetric Assay Kit." BioVision. Web.