A small, physiological electric field orients cell division

Min Zhao, John V. Forrester, Colin D. Mccaig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


We report on an observation that the orientation of cell division is directed by small, applied electric fields (EFs). Cultured human corneal epithelial cells were exposed to a direct-current EF of physiological magnitude. Cells divided while attached to the culture dish, and most did so with a cleavage plane perpendicular to the EF vector. There are many instances in which cell divisions in vivo occur in the presence of direct- current physiological EF, for example, during embryonic morphogenesis, neuronal and epithelial differentiation, wound healing, or tumor formation. Endogenous physiological EFs may play important roles in some or all of these processes by regulating the axis of cell division and, hence, the positioning of daughter cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4942-4946
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Apr 27 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Corneal epithelium
  • Leavage plane
  • Orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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