We review an emerging microfluidics-based toolkit for single-cell functional proteomics. Functional proteins include, but are not limited to, the secreted signaling proteins that can reflect the biological behaviors of immune cells or the intracellular phosphoproteins associated with growth factor–stimulated signaling networks. Advantages of the microfluidics platforms are multiple. First, 20 or more functional proteins may be assayed simultaneously from statistical numbers of single cells. Second, cell behaviors (e.g., motility) may be correlated with protein assays. Third, extensions to quantized cell populations can permit measurements of cell–cell interactions. Fourth, rare cells can be functionally identified and then separated for further analysis or culturing. Finally, certain assay types can provide a conduit between biology and the physicochemical laws. We discuss the history and challenges of the field then review design concepts and uses of the microchip platforms that have been reported, with an eye toward biomedical applications. We then look to the future of the field.


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