Biolistic transfection by gene gun bullets

« previous post | next post »

It gets better and better. The folks who invited me to come over and get my proteins expressed ("Just send us your gene", 5/21/2008) are now peddling videos. At least, someone using the same biospam mailing list has sent me the table of contents for the current on-line issue of the Journal of Visualized Experiments, "an online research journal employing visualization to increase reproducibility and transparency in biological sciences".

My favorite video in the current issue is Georgia Woods and Karen Zito, "Preparation of Gene Gun Bullets and Biolistic Transfection of Neurons in Slice Culture". I warn you, though, that "gene gun bullets", "biolistic transfection" and "slice culture" are all somewhat less interesting than the spam email context might make you think. (Or maybe, depending on your tastes, more interesting…)

Let's note in passing that transfection ("The introduction of free viral nucleic acid into a cell") is in the OED, but biolistic ("A method of transfecting cells by bombarding them with microprojectiles coated with DNA; derived as a blend of 'biological ballistic')" is not.

To be clear, JoVE is clearly a legitimate operation, even if it sends unsolicited email to people like me. And JoVE has no connection with the GenScript BacPower™ operation, except for use of the same mailing list(s).

[Update — another scienti-spam invitation just arrived: "Did you know that you can receive notification of the latest research in psychological anthropology without ever leaving your desk?"]


  1. Gez said,

    June 9, 2008 @ 9:04 am

    Language log is mentioned in the WSJ today.

  2. Sili said,

    June 9, 2008 @ 9:37 am

    At this rate you'll have a to recruit a molecular biologist to write for LL.

  3. dr pepper said,

    June 9, 2008 @ 2:29 pm

    Biolistics? From hte description it sounds strangely like what physicist do with particles.

  4. dr pepper said,

    June 9, 2008 @ 2:29 pm

    Arggh! "the" not "hte".

  5. Ingrid Jakobsen said,

    June 9, 2008 @ 6:05 pm

    I'm not currently working as a molecular biologist, but I'm probably more at home there than most LL readers.

    I've never heard of biolistic transfection before. I know the process as shotgun transfection (or shotgun transformation) – a deliberate play on "shotgun wedding" if I remember (I have vague memories of reading the original write-up of the technique).

    Googling suggests "biolistic" has been adopted mainly within neuroscience (which I've not worked in). It's possible there are some technical differences to the process used that justify a different name.

    Molecular biologists are rather fond of "shotgun" – there's also shotgun sequencing and shotgun libraries (which is a fabulous metaphor IMHO). In these cases, there's no ballistics involved – the reference is to a random process where you're hoping to catch everything by throwing the net wide enough – to borrow a different metaphor.

RSS feed for comments on this post