Mouse myeloma cells were electropermeabilized by single square-wave electric pulses with amplitudes of up to ∼150 kV/cm and durations of 10–100 nsec. The effects of the field intensity, pulse duration and medium conductivity on cell viability and field-induced uptake of molecules were analyzed by quantitative flow cytometry using the membrane-impermeable fluorescent dye propidium iodide as indicator molecule. Despite the extremely large field strengths, the majority of cells survived the exposure to ultra-short field pulses. The electrically induced dye uptake increased markedly with decreasing conductivity of the suspending medium. We assigned this phenomenon to the transient electrodeformation (stretching) force that assumes its maximum value if cells are suspended in low-conductivity media, i.e., if the external conductivity σe is smaller than that of the cytosol σi. The stretching force vanishes when σe is equal to or larger than σi. Due to their capability of delivering extremely large electric fields, the pulse power systems used here appear to be a promising tool for the electropermeabilization of very small cells and vesicles (including intracellular organelles, liposomes, etc.).
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 15, 2001
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