The action or process of introducing DNA or chromosomes into bacteria or other cells using a pulse of electricity to open the pores in the cell membranes briefly.
Electroporation, or electropermeabilization, is a microbiology technique in which an electrical field is applied to cells in order to increase the permeability of the cell membrane, allowing chemicals, drugs, or DNA to be introduced into the cell. In microbiology, the process of electroporation is often used to transform bacteria, yeast, or plant protoplasts by introducing new coding DNA. If bacteria and plasmids are mixed together, the plasmids can be transferred into the bacteria after electroporation. Several hundred volts across a distance of several millimeters are typically used in this process. Afterwards, the cells have to be handled carefully until they have had a chance to divide, producing new cells that contain reproduced plasmids. This process is approximately ten times more effective than chemical transformation. Electroporation is also highly efficient for the introduction of foreign genes into tissue culture cells, especially mammalian cells. For example, it is used in the process of producing knockout mice, as well as in tumor treatment, gene therapy, and cell-based therapy. The process of introducing foreign DNA into eukaryotic cells is known as transfection. Electroporation is highly effective for transfecting cells in suspension using electroporation cuvettes. Electroporation has proven efficient for use on tissues in vivo, for in utero applications as well as in ovo transfection. Adherent cells can also be transfected using electroporation, providing researchers with an alternative to trypsinizing their cells prior to transfection.
Drug and gene delivery
Electroporation can also be used to help deliver drugs or genes into the cell by applying short and intense electric pulses that transiently permeabilize cell membrane, thus allowing transport of molecules otherwise not transported through a cellular membrane. This procedure is referred to as electrochemotherapy when the molecules to be transported are chemotherapeutic agents or gene electrotransfer when the molecule to be transported is DNA. Scientists from Karolinska Institutet and the University of Oxford use electroporation of exosomes to deliver siRNAs, antisense oligonucleotides, chemotherapeutic agents and proteins specifically to neurons after inject them systemically (in blood). Because these exosomes are able to cross the blood brain barrier this protocol could solve the issue of poor delivery of medications to the central nervous system and cure Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease and brain cancer among other diseases
Benefits of electroporation
- It is non-viral, non-toxic and can be used on all cell types including mammalian, bacteria, algae, plant and yeast
- It can be used on cells in all forms, in vitro or in vivo/ex vivo.
- In vitro is Latin for "within glass" and includes suspension cell, tissue slice/whole organ, and adherent cell.
- In vivo/ex vivo Latin for "within the living"and includes tissue/whole organ, in ovo, and in utero.
- It's not limited by plasmid size and uptake is immediate and requires no incubation.
- It's reproducible, highly efficient and easy to use.
What can be electroporated?
- Others, insects, fish, mold, and amphibian
- Primary explant culture
- Established cell lines
- Human, in vitro, in vivo, and ex vivo
- Other molecules/ions