Cell Lysis 101: 6 Ways to Disrupt Cells

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Tal Shechter
May 27, 2016
min read
Cell Lysis 101: 6 Ways to Disrupt Cells

Cell disruption is a technique that most scientists use on a daily basis; although seemingly simple, each method’s effectiveness determines the accessibility of intracellular molecules. Therefore, the importance of selecting an appropriate method cannot be understated. Cell disruption techniques can be split into chemical and physical methods; read on to learn about which will work best with your cell type and molecule of interest.

Chemical Methods (1)

  1. Detergents/Surfactants: Interchangeably termed, detergents can rupture a membrane by inserting themselves within its structure and unfolding membrane proteins. Every detergent’s chemical properties and mechanism of action differs; yet it is a very effective cell lysis method, particularly for small samples.
  2. Enzymes: Enzyme treatment is frequently used as the first step of a cell disruption technique. It works by breaking down cell walls, removing unwanted contaminants, generating protoplasts, and promoting DNA isolation by breaking down DNA-binding proteins.

Physical Methods

  1. Bead Mills: Scientists will often turn to bead mills for hard-to-disrupt samples over other mechanical methods. The combination of grinding beads with the rotational homogenizer enables powerful mixing action. An added bonus: because it is a closed system, the bead mill has a decreased risk of cross-contamination.
  2. Grinding: When a sample is placed between two hard surfaces, the friction that is created grinds and effectively ruptures the cell. This method is most effectively paired with solid samples like plant tissue frozen in liquid nitrogen. (2)
  3. High Pressure Homogenization (HPH): push the sample through a narrow space while multiple forces (e.g. intensive pressure, cavitation, turbulence) act on it to decrease particle size and rupture cells. This method works for a wide range of sample sizes, and is easily scalable.
  4. Ultrasonic Homogenization: Based on the force of cavitation, ultrasonic homogenization incorporates sound waves that create alternating high and low pressure cycles. Like HPH, ultrasonic techniques can be appropriate for any sample size and may be scaled if necessary.

Pion: Homogenizers That Effectively Disrupt Cells

Listed above is just a small sampling of the more commonly used cell disruption techniques; of the many to select from, HPH is a viable and effective option. Not only can its techniques be scaled to any sample size, but its settings are also customizable to most cell types. On determining which homogenizer will be the best fit, the search can begin with Pion's BEE brand technology. We are globally recognized among laboratory managers and researchers for our high quality products and excellent customer support.

Cell lysis is just one of a variety of applications for Pion's BEE brand homogenizers; nano/micro emulsions, lipids, suspensions, and dispersions are also easily achievable. Additionally, the homogenizer processes can be controlled to suit any given product, which will allow for customization to the cell type. And finally, the equipment is easy to use, produces higher yield in less time, and achieves results that are reproducible and scalable.

Learn more about how to effectively lyse your cell sample by contacting us today.

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