Should the Cell Type Affect Your Lysis Method?

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Jen Hug
Oct 30, 2015
min read
Should the Cell Type Affect Your Lysis Method?

Have you ever purified protein or cellular organelles? How about extracted DNA or RNA? If you answered yes to any of these, you are probably well-acquainted with at least one cell lysis method. But were you using the optimal method for your specific cell type? Below are listed a variety of cell types matched with the cell lysis method that will derive the highest quality lysate.

Bacterial Cells

In addition to the plasma membrane, bacterial cells are surrounded by a rigid cell wall composed of peptidoglycan. Homogenization is the most commonly used method for lysing bacteria, as it is gentle enough to keep intact the intracellular components but forceful enough to break the cell wall. Laboratories that don’t have access to a homogenizer can alternatively use glass beads (more effective with bacteria than other cell types) or freeze thawing.

Complex Cells

Particularly in large amounts, complex tissue such as muscle and liver requires forceful disruption. These cell types are typically treated with both mechanical lysis and detergent. Mechanical lysis can be accomplished with rotating blades that grind down the tissue. Some models contain an adjustable shaft to accommodate various sample sizes.

Mammalian Cells

Without a tough cell wall, mammalian cells need a method that is effective enough to disrupt their plasma membrane but gentle enough to keep the intracellular contents intact. Therefore, mild detergents with low concentrations of protease inhibitors, or freeze thawing in some cases, are typically sufficient.

Plant Cells

The powerful cell wall comprised of cellulose and polysaccharides makes plant cells difficult to penetrate. Manual lysis via mortar and pestle is therefore one of the quickest and easiest ways to access a plant cell’s intracellular contents.

Small Volumes & Cultured Cells

Cell cultures can be grown with most cell types, mammalian and non-mammalian (e.g. plant, bacteria, yeast). Most cultured cells can be easily disrupted via homogenization; use of a high quality homogenizer may require only 1-2 passes to achieve complete disruption of the sample. Homogenization is also appropriate for small sample sizes or samples that start with small particle sizes.

Pion: High Quality Homogenizers for Cell Disruption

Most of the cell types listed above can be easily lysed with a homogenizer, regardless of the sample volume. However, the lysate can be of higher quality and more even consistency when run through a top-shelf homogenizer. Pion is trusted by researchers around the world for both their laboratory homogenizers and their associated customer support.

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

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