Ultrasonic Lysis: Step-by-Step Guide to Perfecting Cell Disruption

Do you want to master the science of cell lysis? Look no further! In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of ultrasonic cell disruption and ensure that your cell lysis technique gets you optimal results. Whether you are an experienced researcher or a novice scientist, this guide will give you the knowledge and skills to use a probe-type sonicator in order to achieve successful cell disruption and lysis.

Ultrasonic Homogenizers are Powerful Cell Disrupters

Sonication, the technique using a probe-type sonicator, is a widely used method for breaking open cells, which is a critical step of sample preparation in many biological, biochemical, and analytical experiments and assays. The effectiveness of sonication depends on various factors, including amplitude, power, sonication duration and sample preparation.
By understanding the working principles behind sonication and using the right techniques, you can maximize cell disruption whilst minimizing damage to sensitive molecules.
Throughout this guide, we will provide detailed instructions and practical tips to help you navigate the sonication process with ease. This includes selecting the appropriate sonicator and ultrasonic settings to optimize the conditions for specific cell types.

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Sonicators are used for efficient lysis and cell disruption during sample preparation. In microbiology and bio-science, ultrasonic homogenizers  (sonicators) are used for cell disruption,  lysis, protein extraction, DNA / RNA extraction, DNA and chromatin shearing / fragmentation, ChIP assays, Western Blotting, and degassing of samples.

Sonicator UP200St for cell lysis and extraction of intracellular molecules.

The Importance of Cell Lysis in Scientific Research

Cell disruption or lysis is one of the basic techniques used in various fields of scientific research, including molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry and life science. The process of cell disruption involves breaking open the cell membrane or cell wall to release its intracellular molecules. Target molecules of lysis can be proteins, nucleic acids, and other cellular components. This means, lysis enables scientists to extract internal components and biomolecules from cells for analysis.
Understanding the principles of cell lysis is essential for generating accurate and reproducible results. By effectively breaking open the cells, researchers can access the intracellular molecules they need to study, such as enzymes, DNA, RNA, and proteins. Different cell types require different lysis methods, and sonication has emerged as a popular technique due to its versatility and efficiency.
Sonication is a physical method that uses high-frequency sound waves to disrupt cell membranes. As the intensity of the sonication process can be precisely adjusted, sonicators are useful for breaking open soft and tough cell walls and extracting intracellular components. By optimizing sonication conditions, researchers can achieve efficient cell lysis while preserving the integrity of the extracted molecules.

Understanding the Principles of Sonication

Before we start the sonication process, it is crucial to prepare the cell lysate properly. Here is a step-by-step guide that helps you get started:

  • Cell Culture Preparation: Start by growing the cells of interest in appropriate culture media and conditions. Ensure that the cells are healthy and in the desired growth phase before proceeding.
  • Cell Harvesting: Once the cells have reached the desired confluency or growth phase, harvest them using a suitable method such as trypsinization or scraping. Transfer the cells to a sterile centrifuge tube and pellet them by centrifugation.
  • Cell Wash: Remove the culture media and wash the cell pellet with a suitable buffer solution, such as phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). This step helps remove any residual media and contaminants.
  • Cell Resuspension: Resuspend the cell pellet in a lysis buffer appropriate for your experiment. The lysis buffer should contain detergents or enzymes to disrupt the cell membrane and release the intracellular contents.
  • Cell Lysis: Homogenize the cell suspension using a probe-type sonicator to ensure complete lysis. Depending on the cell type and experimental requirements, you may need to incubate the cell lysate at specific temperatures or add additional reagents to enhance lysis.
  • Cell Debris Removal: Centrifuge the cell lysate at high speed to pellet the cell debris, organelles, and other insoluble materials. Transfer the supernatant containing the desired intracellular components to a new tube.
  • Protein Quantification: Measure the protein concentration of the cell lysate using a suitable method, such as the Bradford or BCA assay. This step helps determine the appropriate dilutions for downstream applications.
  • Sample Aliquoting: Depending on your experimental design, aliquot the cell lysate into suitable volumes and store them at the appropriate temperature for future use.

By following these steps, you prepare cell lysate correctly and ready for sonication in order to achieve optimal results.
 

This tutorial explains what type of sonicator is best for your sample preparation tasks such as lysis, cell disruption, protein isolation, DNA and RNA fragmentation in laboratories, analysis, and research. Choose the ideal sonicator type for your application, sample volume, sample number and throughput. Hielscher Ultrasonics has the ideal ultrasonic homogenizer for you!

How to Find the Perfect Sonicator for Cell Disruption and Protein Extraction in Science and Analysis

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Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing the Cell Lysate

Now that you have read about the complete process of preparing a cell lysate, we want to focus on the sonication step. The sonication conditions are important in order to achieve efficient cell lysis. The key parameters to consider when optimizing sonication include duration, power, and sample preparation. Here are some guidelines to help you optimize these parameters:

  1. Duration: The duration of sonication depends on the cell type and the desired level of cell disruption. Start with shorter durations and gradually increase if necessary. Avoid excessive sonication times, as they can lead to excessive heat generation and denaturation of sensitive molecules.
  2. Power: The power setting of the sonication device should be optimized based on the cell type and the desired level of cell disruption. Higher power settings may result in more efficient cell lysis but can also cause excessive heat generation. It is essential to balance cell disruption with sample integrity.
  3. Sample Preparation: Proper sample preparation is critical for efficient sonication. Ensure that the cell lysate is free from debris and insoluble materials that can interfere with sonication efficiency. Centrifuge the lysate if necessary before sonication.
  4. Temperature Control: Sonication generates heat, which can be detrimental to sensitive molecules. To minimize heat damage, consider using a sonication device with temperature control capabilities or perform sonication in a cold room or on ice.
  5. Sonicator Probe Positioning: Proper positioning of the sonicator probe is crucial for efficient sonication. The probe should be immersed in the cell lysate but not touching the container walls to avoid unnecessary vibrations and potential damage to the sample container.

By carefully considering these parameters and optimizing the sonication conditions, you achieve efficient cell lysis while preserving the integrity of the extracted molecules.

Ultrasonic homogenizer UP400St for sample preparation in biology, microbiology and life science

Ultrasonic homogenizer UP400ST used for cell solubilization, lysis and protein extraction

Optimizing Sonication Conditions for Efficient Cell Lysis

Despite following the recommended guidelines, researchers may encounter challenges during the cell lysis and sonication process. Understanding these challenges and implementing troubleshooting strategies can help overcome them. Here are some common challenges and their corresponding troubleshooting tips:

  1. Insufficient Cell Lysis: If the cell lysate does not yield the desired level of cell disruption, consider increasing the sonication duration or power. Additionally, ensure that the cell lysate is adequately prepared and free from debris or insoluble materials that may interfere with sonication efficiency.
  2. Excessive Foam Generation: Excessive foam during sonication can hinder efficient cell lysis. To minimize foam generation, use a lysis buffer with the appropriate detergent concentration and avoid excessive mixing or agitation during the sonication process.
  3. Sample Heating: Excessive heat generation during sonication can denature sensitive molecules and compromise the integrity of the cell lysate. To minimize sample heating, consider using a sonication device with temperature control capabilities or perform sonication in a cold room or on ice.
  4. Sample Contamination: Contamination can occur during cell lysis and sonication, leading to inaccurate results. To minimize contamination, ensure that all equipment and reagents used are sterile and free from contaminants. Use proper aseptic techniques during sample preparation and handling.

By being aware of these challenges and implementing the appropriate troubleshooting strategies, you can overcome obstacles and achieve successful cell lysis using a probe-type sonicator.

This video clip shows the Hielscher ultrasonic homogenizer UP100H, an ultrasonicator widely used for sample preparation in laboratories.

Ultrasonic Homogenizer UP100H

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Common Challenges in Cell Lysis and Troubleshooting Tips

Once you have successfully sonicated your cell lysate, it is essential to handle the sonicated samples properly to maintain the integrity of the extracted molecules. Here are some best practices for handling sonicated samples:

  • Avoid Repeated Freeze-Thaw Cycles: Freeze-thaw cycles can lead to the degradation of sensitive molecules. It is best to aliquot the sonicated samples into suitable volumes and store them at the appropriate temperature to avoid repeated freeze-thaw cycles.
  • Proper Storage: Store the sonicated samples at the appropriate temperature and protect them from light if necessary. Follow the recommended storage conditions for the specific molecules or downstream applications of interest.
  • Labeling and Documentation: Properly label the sonicated samples with relevant information, including the date, sample name, and sonication conditions. Maintain detailed documentation of the sonication process and any modifications or troubleshooting steps undertaken. If you use a Hielscher digital sonicator, you can find the sonication data such as date, time, amplitude, power and cycles on the integrated SD-card. In order to match the sonication data with your sample, make sure you label your sample with date and time.
  • Avoid Cross-Contamination: To prevent cross-contamination between samples, use separate tubes, tips, and other labware when handling sonicated samples. Clean the ultrasonic probe properly with alcohol. If necessary, you can autoclave the ultrasonic probe. Clean and sterilize any equipment that comes into contact with the samples to minimize the risk of contamination.

If you follow these best practice tips, you ensure the integrity and usability of your sonicated samples for downstream applications.
 

The video shows the ultrasonic sample preparation system UIP400MTP, which allows for the reliable sample preparation of any standard multi-well plates using high-intensity ultrasound. Typical applications of the UIP400MTP include cell lysis, DNA, RNA, and chromatin shearing as well as protein extraction.

Ultrasonicator UIP400MTP for multi-well plate sonication

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How Does Sonication Compare to Other Lysis Techniques?

Cell disruption, protein extraction and lysis buffer preparation with ultrasound is an efficient sample preparation method in laboratories.Sonication, a method that uses high-frequency sound waves to disrupt cell membranes, offers several advantages compared to other cell lysis methods. It is particularly effective for breaking open tough cell walls and extracting intracellular components. By optimizing sonication conditions, researchers achieve efficient cell lysis and obtain high yields of target molecules. At the same time, the integrity of the extracted molecules is preserved providing excellent sample quality for subsequent anlaysis. In contrast, other methods such as mechanical disruption or chemical lysis may not be as gentle and can lead to degradation of the target molecules.
Sonication also provides a high level of control over the intensity and duration of the disruption, making it a versatile and efficient technique for various types of cells and molecules. Therefore, sonication is increasingly preferred in scientific research for its effectiveness and ability to maintain the quality of the extracted components.

Ultrasonic lysis of cells and extraction of intracellular compounds can be easily performed in high-throughput using the plate-sonicator UIP400MTP

UIP400MTP plate sonicator for high-throughput cell disruption in 96-well plates

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High Performance Sonicators for Lysis and Cell Disintegration

Hielscher Ultrasonics stands at the forefront of engineering, manufacturing, and providing cutting-edge probe-sonicators tailored for diverse applications such as sample preparation, cell lysis, DNA fragmentation, and cell solubilization. The comprehensive portfolio encompasses probe-sonicators, high-throughput sonicators designed for 96-well plates and micro-plates, along with ultrasonic cuphorns. Distinguished by precise control over sonication parameters, Hielscher sonicators offer unparalleled adaptability to the distinct requirements of various cells, tissues, and molecules. The reliability of the processing ensures consistent reproducibility of experiments, facilitating the attainment of high-quality results with each iteration.

Why Hielscher Ultrasonics?

  • high efficiency
  • state-of-the-art technology
  • reliability & robustness
  • adjustable, precise process control
  • batch & inline
  • for any volume
  • intelligent software
  • smart features (e.g., programmable, data protocolling, remote control)
  • easy and safe to operate
  • Lågt underhåll
  • CIP (clean-in-place)

Design, Manufacturing and ConsultingQuality Made in Germany

Hielscher ultrasonicators are well-known for their highest quality and design standards. Robustness and easy operation allow the smooth integration of our ultrasonicators into industrial facilities. Rough conditions and demanding environments are easily handled by Hielscher ultrasonicators.

Hielscher Ultrasonics is an ISO certified company and put special emphasis on high-performance ultrasonicators featuring state-of-the-art technology and user-friendliness. Of course, Hielscher ultrasonicators are CE compliant and meet the requirements of UL, CSA and RoHs.

The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our lab-size ultrasonicators:

Rekommenderade enheterBatchvolymFlöde
UIP400MTP 96-Well Plate Sonicatormulti-well / microtiter platesN.A.
Ultrasonic CupHornCupHorn for vials or beakerN.A.
GDmini2ultrasonic micro-flow reactorN.A.
VialTweeter0.5 to 1.5mLN.A.
UP100H1 till 500 ml10 till 200 ml/min
UP200Ht, UP200St10 to 1000mL20 to 200mL/min
UP400St10 till 2000 ml20 till 400 ml/min
UIP500hdT100 to 5000mL0.1 to 4L/min
Ultrasonic Sieve ShakerN.A.N.A.

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Applications of cell lysis and sonication in various fields

To achieve successful cell lysis, it is essential to have the right tools and equipment. Here are some key tools commonly used in cell lysis and sonication:

  1. Choose the Right Sonicator: Sonicators or ultrasonic homogenizers are the primary tools used for cell lysis through sonication. Make sure you use a precisely controllable probe-type sonicator as results can replicated reliably. Avoid ultrasonic baths for lysis, extraction and DNA fragmentation. Ultrasonic baths are mainly for cleaning applications. They do not deliver reproducible results. Keeping these points in mind, choose a device that offers the appropriate power settings, changeable probe sizes, and temperature control capabilities for your specific experiment. Features such as sample illumination and automatic data protocolling facilitate your work.
  2. Centrifuges: Centrifuges are used to pellet cells, remove debris, and separate cellular components during cell lysis. Opt for centrifuges with appropriate rotor types and speeds to meet your experimental requirements.
  3. Pipettes and Pipette Tips: Accurate and precise pipetting is crucial during cell lysis and sample handling. Ensure you have a range of pipettes and tips suitable for the volumes used in your experiment.
  4. Lysis Buffers: Select lysis buffers optimized for your specific cell types and experimental applications. Consider buffers that contain detergents or enzymes to disrupt cell membranes effectively.
  5. Sample Containers: Use appropriate sample containers, such as microcentrifuge tubes or vials, to hold the cell lysate during sonication. Ensure the containers are compatible with sonication and do not interfere with the ultrasound waves.
  6. Temperature Control Equipment: If working with temperature-sensitive samples, consider using a sonication device with built-in temperature control capabilities or invest in temperature-controlled water baths or chillers to maintain sample integrity.

By having the right tools and equipment at your disposal, you can ensure successful cell lysis and achieve optimal results in your experiments.

Ultrasonic lysis and extraction can be also performed as inline process.

Ultrasonic lysis and extraction can be also performed as inline process using an ultrasonic flow cell.



Litteratur / Referenser


High performance ultrasonics! The Hielscher product range covers the full spectrum from the compact lab ultrasonicator over bench-top units to full-industrial ultrasonic systems.

Hielscher Ultrasonics manufactures high-performance ultrasonic homogenizers from lab to industrial size.


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