Nanosecond pulsed electric fields perturb membrane phospholipids in T lymphoblasts

P. Thomas Vernier, Yinghua Sun, Laura Marcu, Cheryl M. Craft, Martin A. Gundersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Nanosecond, megavolt-per-meter pulsed electric fields scramble the asymmetric arrangement of phospholipids in cell membranes without the permeabilization associated with longer, lower-field pulses. A single 30 ns, 2.5 MV/m pulse produces perturbations consistent with phosphatidylserine (PS) externalization in Jurkat T lymphoblasts within milliseconds, polarized in the direction of the applied field, indicating an immediate interaction between membrane components and the electric field. This disturbance occurs only at the anode pole of the cell, supporting the hypothesis that the pulsed field drives the negatively charged PS head group toward the positive electrode, directly providing the energy for crossing the membrane dielectric barrier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-108
Number of pages6
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Aug 13 2004


  • BAPTA, 1,2-bis(o-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid
  • Nanosecond pulsed electric field
  • Phosphatidylserine externalization
  • Phospholipid translocation
  • Real-time fluorescence microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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