Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Biomedical Engineering

Major Professor

Mark Jaroszeski, Ph.D.


Direct current, Cell-cell contact, Cell fusion, NT2 cells, Fusion chamber, 1:1 fusion


Cell fusion is an important technique that is used in the field of medicine and biomedical research. For instance, fusion can be used to create hybridomas and novel types of secretory hybrid cells. It may also be used to engineer cultured insulin-secreting pancreatic B-cell lines for the treatment of diabetes. Historically, the applications listed above have been accomplished by a number of methodologies including dielectrophoresis, centrifugation, polyethylene glycol (PEG) and viral fusion proteins. However, these approaches often fail to produce the desired results due to poor cell viability, lack of 1:1 fusion, and use of non-physiological environments. It is proposed that the application of an electrical field generated by corona charge (corona fields) and subsequent treatment with direct current (DC) pulse technology will overcome these deficiencies. Isolated and pre-labeled neuronally committed human teratocarcinoma (NT2) cells in monoculture or co-culture, were seeded in chambers, constructed in the laboratory, and allowed to adhere to the chamber bottom prior to corona treatment.

A corona generator, also constructed in the laboratory, was used to expose cells to positive and negative electrical charges to induce cell-cell contact. The cells were then pulsed with DC voltage to induce fusion. During the experiments, cells were photographed sequentially to record cell movement/contact and fusion. The project was designed to identify optimal corona-based electrofusion parameters for viable, 1:1 cell fusion. Optimal results for cell-cell contact were obtained using a cell density of 2.35 times ten to the fourth power cells per microliter Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium (DMEM) in a grounded circular plate corona chamber following at least 3 minutes of settling time. Corona charges from (+) 6.1 kilivolt and (-) 5.5 kilivolt potentials were determined as being most favorable for cell movement and viability.

Fusion was best achieved by first exposing either a circular or square ungrounded corona chamber configuration to 3 minutes (+) corona charge followed by 3 minutes (--) corona charge; disturbing the cells in the chamber with mechanical force; and then exposing them to 8-15 sequences of a 2,500 Volts per centimeter DC pulse at 100 microseconds.