Cell sorting refers to an assay in which cells are separated and recovered from suspension based upon properties measured in flow cytometry analysis. Up to 2 subpopulations may be separated by instruments. Most assays utilized for analysis may serve as the basis for sorting experiments, as long as gates and regions defining the subpopulation(s) to be sorted do not logically overlap. Maximum throughput rates are limited to 5000 cells/second (18 x 10e6 cells/hour). The rate of collection of the separated population(s) sorted depends primarily upon the condition of the cells and the percentage of reactivity. Cells that are recovered via flow sorting are viable and can be collected under sterile conditions. We can most often recover subpopulations that are in excess of 99.5% pure.
Common cell sorting experiments usually involve immunofluorescence assays - staining of cells with antibodies conjugated to fluorescent dyes in order to detect antigens. In addition, a great deal of sorting is done using GFP-type constructs in order to isolate pure populations of cells expressing a given gene/construct.