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Optical transfection

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A mechanical process of delivering nucleic acids into cells through the use of light (e.g. laser)


Transfection is the process of delivering genetic materials into the target eukaryotic cells. It can be done through chemical and non-chemical means. Optical transfection is one of those methods used to deliver genetic materials through non-chemical means. It distinctively makes use of light (typically, from a laser device). This method works by using a highly focused laser to create a transient tiny pore (i.e. approximately 1 micrometer in diameter) in the cell membrane. The pore produced through laser beam treatment is referred to as photopore. Macromolecules (such as plasmid DNA, RNA and other large molecules) that typically cannot enter the cell through the plasma membrane will be able to gain entry into the cell via the photopore.

This technique is first described by Tsukakoshi and others in 1984 when they used frequency tripled Nd:YAG for the transfection of normal rat kidney cells.1 This method though involves laser exposure of a single cell at a time. Thus, it is appropriate for single cell analysis.

See also:

1Tsukakoshi M, Kurata S, Nomiya Y, et al (1984). "A Novel Method of DNA Transfection by Laser Microbeam Cell Surgery". Applied Physics B-Photophysics and Laser Chemistry 35 (3): 135–140. doi: 10.1007/BF00697702.