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“Optical Patch-clamping”: Single-channel Recording by Imaging Ca2+ Flux through Individual Muscle Acetylcholine Receptor Channels

By Angelo Demuro and Ian Parker


We describe an optical technique using total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy to obtain simultaneous and independent recordings from numerous ion channels via imaging of single-channel Ca2+ flux. Muscle nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptors made up of αβγδ subunits were expressed in Xenopus oocytes, and single channel Ca2+ fluorescence transients (SCCaFTs) were imaged using a fast (500 fps) electron-multiplied c.c.d. camera with fluo-4 as the indicator. Consistent with their arising through openings of individual nicotinic channels, SCCaFTs were seen only when a nicotinic agonist was present in the bathing solution, were blocked by curare, and increased in frequency as roughly the second power of [ACh]. Their fluorescence amplitudes varied linearly with membrane potential and extrapolated to zero at about +60 mV. The rise and fall times of fluorescence were as fast as 2 ms, providing a kinetic resolution adequate to characterize channel gating kinetics; which showed mean open times of 7.9 and 15.8 ms when activated, respectively, by ACh or suberyldicholine. Simultaneous records were obtained from >400 channels in the imaging field, and we devised a novel “channel chip” representation to depict the resultant large dataset as a single image. The positions of SCCaFTs remained fixed (<100 nm displacement) over tens of seconds, indicating that the nicotinic receptor/channels are anchored in the oocyte membrane; and the spatial distribution of channels appeared random without evidence of clustering. Our results extend single-channel TIRFM imaging to ligand-gated channels that display only partial permeability to Ca2+, and demonstrate an order-of-magnitude improvement in kinetic resolution. We believe that functional single-channel imaging opens a new approach to ion channel study, having particular advantages over patch-clamp recording in that it is massively parallel, and provides high-resolution spatial information that is inaccessible by electrophysiological techniques

Topics: Article
Publisher: The Rockefeller University Press
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:2266576
Provided by: PubMed Central
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