DNA electrophoretic migration patterns change after exposure of Jurkat cells to a single intense nanosecond electric pulse

PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28419. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028419. Epub 2011 Dec 2.


Intense nanosecond pulsed electric fields (nsPEFs) interact with cellular membranes and intracellular structures. Investigating how cells respond to nanosecond pulses is essential for a) development of biomedical applications of nsPEFs, including cancer therapy, and b) better understanding of the mechanisms underlying such bioelectrical effects. In this work, we explored relatively mild exposure conditions to provide insight into weak, reversible effects, laying a foundation for a better understanding of the interaction mechanisms and kinetics underlying nsPEF bio-effects. In particular, we report changes in the nucleus of Jurkat cells (human lymphoblastoid T cells) exposed to single pulses of 60 ns duration and 1.0, 1.5 and 2.5 MV/m amplitudes, which do not affect cell growth and viability. A dose-dependent reduction in alkaline comet-assayed DNA migration is observed immediately after nsPEF exposure, accompanied by permeabilization of the plasma membrane (YO-PRO-1 uptake). Comet assay profiles return to normal within 60 minutes after pulse delivery at the highest pulse amplitude tested, indicating that our exposure protocol affects the nucleus, modifying DNA electrophoretic migration patterns.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Survival
  • Coloring Agents / pharmacology
  • Comet Assay / methods
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics*
  • Electrophoresis / instrumentation*
  • Electrophoresis / methods*
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Kinetics
  • Nanotechnology / methods
  • Nucleoproteins / chemistry
  • Permeability
  • Physics / methods
  • Protein Conformation
  • Trypan Blue / pharmacology


  • Coloring Agents
  • Nucleoproteins
  • DNA
  • Trypan Blue