An Overview of Non-Mechanical Methods of Cell Disruption

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Deb Shechter
Jul 10, 2015
min read
An Overview of Non-Mechanical Methods of Cell Disruption

Previously, we focused on some common mechanical methods that life science researchers use to achieve cell disruption. These include bead method (a.k.a. beadbetting), sonication, grinding, blenders, freezing, microwave and the use of homogenizers. Now, let us explore some common non-mechanical methods that researchers use to disrupt the cell wall and release the biological molecules within.   

  • Chemicals

Often used with plant cells (and sometimes in combination with shearing), organic solvents such as toluene, ether, benzene, methanol, surfactants, and phenylethyl alcohol DMSO can be used to permeate cell walls. Also, EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) can be used to disrupt gram negative microorganisms, since it chelates the cations, which leave holes in the cell walls.

  • Enzymes

Enzymes such as beta(1-6) and beta(1-3) glycanases, proteases and mannase can be used to disrupt the cell wall. This method is particularly useful for isolating the cell without the wall (protoplast). Researchers often use EDTA in order to make the peptidoclycan layer accessible.

  • Osmotic Lysis

Through the process of osmosis, water can be moved into the cell causing its volume to increase to the point that it bursts. Note that this method can only work with animal cells and protozoa, since they do not have cell walls.

  • Electrical Discharges

It is also possible to achieve cell disruption via electrical discharges in mammalian cells, which are cells that are bounded by plasma membranes and, unlike plant cells, have no cell wall. This method allows researchers to examine secretion by exocytosis, which is a process during which the membrane-bounded sphere (intracellular vesicle) shifts to and fuses with the plasma membrane.

  • Basic Proteins

Yeast cell walls can be disrupted by using basic proteins, such as protamine.

  • Pion Laboratory High Pressure Homogenizers

Many life science researchers are opting to use Pion Laboratory High Pressure Homogenizers in order to achieve cell disruption. This is because our groundbreaking products give researchers the unprecedented ability to control pressure, so that they can rupture a wide variety of cell types – including those with stronger cell walls (e.g. yeast, fungi, etc.). Researchers can also achieve better results, which means a higher yield in fewer passes, which saves time and money, and ensures that results can be scaled to manufacturing.

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