Electric fields of a few kV/cm and of duration in microseconds are known to implant pores of limited size in cell membranes. We report here a study of kinetics of pore formation and reversibility of pores. Loading of biologically active molecules was also attempted. For human erythrocytes in an isotonic saline, pores allowed passive Rb+ entry formed within 0.5 μs when a 4 kV/cm electric pulse was used. Pores that admitted oligosaccharides were introduced with an electric pulse of a longer duration in an isosmotic mixture of NaCl and sucrose. These pores were irreversible under most circumstances, but they could be resealed in an osmotically balanced medium. A complete resealing of pores that admitted Rb+ took approximately 40 min at 37°C. Resealing of pores that admitted sucrose took much longer, 20 h, under similar conditions. In other cell types, resealing step may be omitted due to stronger membrane structures. Experimental protocols for loading small molecules into cells without losing cytoplasmic macromolecules are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology