Nanosecond pulsed electric fields and the cell cycle


Exposure to nanosecond pulsed electrical fields (nsPEFs) can cause poration of external and internal cell membranes, DNA damage, and disassociation of cytoskeletal components, all of which are capable of disrupting a cell's ability to replicate. The phase of the cell cycle at the time of exposure is linked to differential sensitivities to nsPEFs across cell lines, as DNA structure, membrane elasticity, and cytoskeletal structure change dramatically during the cell cycle. Additionally, nsPEFs are capable of activating cell cycle checkpoints, which could lead to apoptosis or slow population growth. NsPEFs are emerging as a method for treating tumors via apoptotic induction; therefore, investigating the relevance of nsPEFs and the cell cycle could translate into improved efficacy in tumor treatment. Populations of Jurkat and Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells were examined post-exposure (10 ns pulse trains at 150kV/cm) by analysis of DNA content via propidium iodide staining and flow cytometric analysis at various time points (1, 6, and 12h post-exposure) to determine population distribution in cell cycle phases. Additionally, CHO and Jurkat cells were synchronized in G1/S and G2/M phases, pulsed, and analyzed to evaluate the role of cell cycle phase in survival of nsPEFs. CHO populations appeared similar to sham populations post-nsPEFs but exhibited arrest in the G1 phase at 6h after exposure. Jurkat cells exhibited increased cell death after nsPEFs compared to CHO cells but did not exhibit checkpoint arrest at any observed time point. The G1/S phase checkpoint is partially controlled by the action of p53; the lack of an active p53 response in Jurkat cells could contribute to their ability to pass this checkpoint and resist cell cycle arrest. Both cell lines exhibited increased sensitivity to nsPEFs in G2/M phase. Live imaging of CHO cells after nsPEF exposure supports the theory of G1/S phase arrest, as a reduced number of cells undergo mitosis within 24 h when compared to sham treated cells. CHO cells undergoing mitosis after exposure also exhibit improper separation of chromatids which could indicate loss of function of the mitotic spindle checkpoint. Activation and loss of function of checkpoints in CHO but not Jurkat cells after nsPEF exposure suggests that activation of cell cycle checkpoints could be important in defining the character of cell line specific recovery after nsPEF exposure. Moreover, the increased sensitivity in G2/M phase exhibited by both cell lines indicates that cell cycle phase is an important consideration during nsPEF exposure, particularly when aiming to induce apoptosis.


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Cell cycle, Pulsed electric fields



Integrative Biology