Cell sorters now allow the selection of cells and other bodies according to a range of quite diverse criteria. The additional refinement that allows the sorting of individual cells based on these criteria has seen application in many fields of research. Single cells may be sorted for microscopy, for culture and for genetic analysis by way of single cell PCR (polymerase chain reaction). In practical terms, in the setting up of an instrument for single cell sorting, there are additional requirements to ensure that each detected event is indeed a single cell or body, that this cell can be reliably sorted via saline droplet, separate from its fellow travelers, that the aiming of the droplet deflection is sufficiently precise to find the target vessel and that the cell will be undamaged on arrival. Among the diverse reported applications of the technique, two fields which have benefited greatly are lymphocyte development and haemopoiesis. In the former case, the analysis of gene rearrangements in lymphocytes, both in the pre- and post-antigenic phases of development, has been enabled by the combined technologies of single cell sorting and PCR. It is argued that such experiments could not have been done without that partnership. In a similar way, the single cell sorting technique has been found to be the perfect way to demonstrate precursor/progeny relationships between haemopoietic cells and, further, to demonstrate rigorously the effects of particular cytokines on the haemopoietic system. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
- Flow cytometry
- Fluorescence-activated cell sorting
- Polymerase chain reaction
- Single cell sorting