We describe and characterize an exceptionally rapid and simple new technique for loading large numbers of cultured cells with large macromolecules. The culture medium of the cell monolayer is replaced by a small volume of the macromolecule to be loaded. Glass beads (75–500 micron diameter) are then sprinkled onto the cells, the cells are washed free of beads and exogenous macromolecules, and ‘bead-loading’ is completed. The conditions for bead-loading can readily be modified to accommodate cell type and loading objectives: for example, the amount of loading per cell increases if bead size is increased or if beads are agitated after sprinkling onto the monolayer, but at the expense of increased cell loss. As many as 97% of a population of bovine aortic endothelial (BAE) cells were loaded with a 10,000 Mr dextran; and 79% with a 150,000 Mr dextran using bead-loading. Various cell lines have been loaded using glass beads. Moreover, bead-loading has the advantage of producing loaded cells that remain adherent and well-spread, thus minimizing recovery time and permitting immediate microscopic examination.

This content is only available via PDF.