Cell sorting is the ability to separate cells according to their properties. These properties can be described as intracellular (inside the cell) or extracellular (outside the cell). Intracellular processes can include DNA, RNA and protein molecule interaction, whereas extracellular physical properties include size, shape (morphology), and surface protein expression.
The Importance of Cell Sorting
As cells are basic structural and functional unit of all living organisms, the ability to isolate and sort different cell types within organs and tissues has led to many established principles in medicine and physiology.
Methods of Cell Sorting
Currently there are several methods for cell sorting. Some are primitive and do not require special equipment whereas others rely on sophisticated electronic appliances. Three major types of cell sorting are fluorescent activated cell sorting, magnetic cell selection and single cell sorting.
Single Cell Sorting
Single cell sorting provides a method for sorting a heterogeneous mixture of cells based upon intracellular and extracellular properties. There are several methods for sorting single cells:
- The IsoRaft array provides a rapid, cost-effective method for isolating cells, analyzing cells over time, and generating clonal populations with the unique ability to monitor all intra- and extracellular properties. This system is ideal for both adherent and non-adherent cell types.
- The DEPArray lab-on-a-chip technology platform is designed to individually identify, manipulate and sort specific cells within a heterogeneous population based on intra- and extracellular properties, not including morphology.
Fluorescent Activated Cell Sorting
Fluorescent Activated Cell Sorting, or FACS, utilizes Flow cytometry to provide a fast, objective and quantitative measurement of intra- and extracellular properties, not including morphology, for sorting a heterogeneous mixture of cells.
Magnetic Cell Sorting
Magnetic cell sorting provides a method for enriching a heterogeneous mixture of cells based upon extracellular properties, typically cell-surface proteins (antigens). There are several types of magnetic cell sorting:
- Magnetic-activated cell sorting (MACS) is a column based separation technique where labeled cells are passed through a magnetic column.
- SEP system provides a column-free cell separation technique in which a tube of labeled cells is placed inside a magnetic field. Positively selected cells are retained in the tube while negatively selected cells are in the liquid suspension.
- "The Isoraft System" (website). Cell Microsystems. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
- "DEPArray Technology" (website). silicon biosystems. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
- "MACS" (website). Meltenyi Biotech. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
- "A simple one-step method for isolating highly purified plasmacytoid dendritic cells from human peripheral blood" (PDF). Stem Cells Journal. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
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