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J Chem Technol Biotechnol. 1992;54(2):159-69.

A low cost microprocessor-controlled electrofusion and electroporation system.

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Faculty of Engineering, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, Canada.


An important recent development in the field of biotechnology has been the use of high electric fields to render cell membranes temporarily permeable (electroporation). Cells in this state are receptive to gene transfer or can be induced to fuse with each other (electrofusion) to form hybrid cells containing the combined characteristics of the parent cells. A major reason for fusing cells is to form hybridoma cells which secrete monoclonal antibodies. A problem for research workers has been the high price of some of the electrofusion equipment. This problem has been addressed by designing a device that is inexpensive (less than $800 Canadian) and can be assembled by an electronics technician. The system uses a Radio Shack CoCo III microcomputer which is programmed in BASIC and controls the electroporation voltage pulse amplitude (25-500 V) and duration (2-275 microseconds) to an electrofusion chamber; this yields electric field strengths of 0.25-5 kV cm-1 for a 0.1 cm electrode spacing. The system is capable of delivering pulse currents up to 3 A. This paper provides technical details on how to construct an instrument that has greater flexibility at less cost than comparable commercially available instruments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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