cell electrophoresismedical dictionary

<technique>

A method for estimating the surface charge of a cell by looking at its rate of movement in an electrical field. Almost all eukaryotic cells have a net negative surface charge.

Measurement is complicated by the streaming potential at the wall of the chamber itself and by the fact that the cell is surrounded by a layer of fluid (see double layer).

The electrical potential measured (the zeta potential) is actually some distance away from the plasma membrane. One of the more useful modifications is to systematically vary the pH of the suspension fluid to determine the pK of the charged groups responsible (mostly carboxyl groups of sialic acid).

(26 Mar 1998)