The electrical properties of structures within an intact cell were examined by impalement with micropipette electrodes. Mean potential differences (PDs) measured from interphase HeLa cells showed that internal membrane-bounded compartments such as the nucleus, Golgi region, and the mitochondria were more negative than the cytoplasm with respect to an external grounding electrode. The nuclear PDs, unlike Golgi and cytoplasmic PDs, shifted during interphase and reached a peak value shortly before mitosis. The positioning of micropipettes was confirmed by electron microscope examination of marker solutions that were microinjected into specific intracellular regions. The combination of methods described here offers a new approach for the study of physiological events within intact, living cells.

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