Current Techniques for Single-Cell Lysis

J R Soc Interface. 2008 Oct 6;5 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S131-8. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2008.0009.focus.


Owing to the small quantities of analytes and small volumes involved in single-cell analysis techniques, manipulation strategies must be chosen carefully. The lysis of single cells for downstream chemical analysis in capillaries and lab-on-a-chip devices can be achieved by optical, acoustic, mechanical, electrical or chemical means, each having their respective strengths and weaknesses. Selection of the most appropriate lysis method will depend on the particulars of the downstream cell lysate processing. Ultrafast lysis techniques such as the use of highly focused laser pulses or pulses of high voltage are suitable for applications requiring high temporal resolution. Other factors, such as whether the cells are adherent or in suspension and whether the proteins to be collected are desired to be native or denatured, will determine the suitability of detergent-based lysis methods. Therefore, careful selection of the proper lysis technique is essential for gathering accurate data from single cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alkalies / pharmacology
  • Cell Separation*
  • Cells / drug effects
  • Cytological Techniques
  • Detergents / pharmacology
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary
  • Electroporation
  • Lasers
  • Microchip Analytical Procedures
  • Optics and Photonics
  • Sonication


  • Alkalies
  • Detergents