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Theory of Electroporation
Weaver JC
Biomembrane Electrochemistry 235: 447-470 1994

Electroporation is a dramatic cell membrane phenomenon that is of growing importance to biology, biotechnology, and medicine. Electroporation caused by short pulses occurs at a transmembrane voltage of about 1000 mV for many different types of cell and artificial membranes. Here we describe the development of a theoretical model that predicts measurable quantities. An underlying theme of our general approach is the hypothesis that electroconformational or structural changes of (1) the membrane itself; (2) membrane macromolecules, and (3) membrane-macromolecule complexes can provide a general basis for electric field interactions with cells. Electroporation theory is presently based on the membrane itself and can. be expected to also involve membrane-macromolecule complexes. In related nonelectroporation work, we hypothesized that membrane macromolecules are relevant to understanding possible weak electric field interactions, and we have estimated the threshold field, E(e,min) associated with the thermal noise limit for the response of living cells to weak electric fields.