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Biophys J. 1997 Oct;73(4):1785-96.

Electroporation-induced formation of individual calcium entry sites in the cell body and processes of adherent cells.

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Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Electroporation is a widely used method for introducing macromolecules into cells. We developed an electroporation device that requires only 1 microl of sample to load adherent cells in a 10-mm2 surface area while retaining greater than 90% cell survivability. To better understand this device, field-induced permeabilization of adherent rat basophilic leukemia and neocortical neuroblastoma cells was investigated by using fluorescent calcium and voltage indicators. Rectangular field pulses led to the formation of only a few calcium entry sites, preferentially in the hyperpolarized parts of the cell body and processes. Individual entry sites were formed at the same locations when field pulses were repeated. Before calcium entry, a partial breakdown of the membrane potential was observed in both polar regions. Based on our results, a model is proposed for the formation and closure of macromolecule entry sites in adherent cells. First, the rapid formation of a large number of small pores leads to a partial membrane potential breakdown in both polar regions of the cell. Second, over tens of milliseconds, a few entry sites for macromolecules are formed, preferentially in the hyperpolarized part of cell body and processes, at locations defined by the local membrane structure. These entry sites reseal on a time scale of 50 ms to several seconds, with residual small pores remaining open for several minutes.

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