A temporary electric field is an electric field that is applied for a brief period and then removed. In the context of cellular biology and biotechnology, temporary electric fields are used in techniques such as electroporation, which is a method for introducing foreign molecules into cells.
In electroporation, a temporary electric field is applied to a cell suspension or tissue, causing the formation of transient pores in the cell membrane. The strength, duration, and number of electric pulses are carefully optimized for the specific cell type and the molecules being introduced. The temporary electric field induces a temporary rearrangement of the lipid molecules in the cell membrane, leading to the formation of transient pores or “electropores.”
The transient pores allow the entry of foreign molecules into the cell, such as DNA, RNA, or proteins, which would otherwise be unable to cross the hydrophobic core of the lipid bilayer. Once inside the cell, these molecules can exert their desired effect, such as gene expression or gene editing.
After the temporary electric field is removed, the transient pores in the cell membrane reseal, returning the cell membrane to its original state. This resealing is crucial for maintaining cell integrity and viability, allowing the cell to continue functioning normally.
Overall, the use of temporary electric fields in techniques like electroporation has been a valuable tool in cellular biology and biotechnology, enabling efficient delivery of molecules of interest while minimizing cell damage and maintaining cell viability.