Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 1092 Views Mar 20, 2022

The lumen of blood vessels is covered by endothelial cells, which regulate their permeability to ions and solutes. Endothelial permeability depends on the vascular bed and cell phenotype, and is influenced by different disease states. Most characterization of endothelial permeability has been carried out using isolated cells in culture. While analysis of cultured cells is a valuable approach, it does not account for factors of the native cell environment. Building on Ussing chamber studies of intact tissue specimens, here we describe a method to measure the electrophysiological properties of intact arteriole and venule endothelia, including transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) and ion permselectivity. As an example, vessels isolated from the mesentery were treated ex vivo, then mounted in a custom-made tissue cassette that enable their analysis by classical approaches with an Ussing chamber. This method enables a detailed analysis of electrophysiological vessel responses to stresses such as proinflammatory cytokines, in the context of an intact vessel.

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0 Q&A 2140 Views Jan 5, 2022

Spiral ganglion neurons (SGN) are the primary neuronal pathway for transmitting sensory information from the inner ear to the brainstem. Recent studies have revealed significant biophysical and molecular diversity indicating that auditory neurons are comprised of sub-groups whose intrinsic properties contribute to their diverse functions. Previous approaches for studying the intrinsic biophysical properties of spiral ganglion neurons relied on patch-clamp and molecular analysis of cultured somata that were disconnected from their pre-synaptic hair cell partners. In the absence of the information provided by cell-to-cell connectivity, such studies could not associate biophysical diversity with functional sub-groups. Here we describe a protocol for preparing, recording, and labeling spiral ganglion neurons in a semi-intact ex-vivo preparation. In these preparations, the cell bodies of spiral ganglion neurons remain connected to their hair cell partners. The recordings are completed within 4 hours of euthanasia, alleviating concerns about whether long culture times and culture conditions change the intrinsic properties of neurons.

0 Q&A 2076 Views Dec 20, 2021

Prokaryotic ion channels have been instrumental in furthering our understanding of many fundamental aspects of ion channels’ structure and function. However, characterizing the biophysical properties of a prokaryotic ion channel in a native membrane system using patch-clamp electrophysiology is technically challenging. Patch-clamp is regarded as a gold standard technique to study ion channel properties in both native and heterologous expression systems. The presence of a cell wall and the small size of bacterial cells makes it impossible to directly patch clamp using microelectrodes. Here, we describe a method for the preparation of giant E. coli spheroplasts in order to investigate the electrophysiological properties of bacterial cell membranes. Spheroplasts are formed by first inhibiting bacterial cell wall synthesis, followed by enzymatic digestion of the outer cell wall in the presence of a permeabilizing agent. This protocol can be used to characterize the function of any heterologous ion channels or ion transporters expressed in E. coli membranes.

0 Q&A 2025 Views Nov 20, 2021

Severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI) survivors experience permanent functional disabilities due to significant volume loss and the brain’s poor capacity to regenerate. Chondroitin sulfate glycosaminoglycans (CS-GAGs) are key regulators of growth factor signaling and neural stem cell homeostasis in the brain. In this protocol, we describe how to perform recordings to quantify the neuroprotective and regenerative effect of implanted engineered CS-GAG hydrogel (eCS) on brain tissue. This experiment was performed in rats under three conditions: healthy without injury (Sham), controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury on the rostral forelimb area (RFA), and CCI-RFA with eCS implants. This protocol describes the procedure used to perform the craniotomy, the positioning of the cortical recording electrode, the positioning of the stimulation electrode (contralateral paw), and the recording procedure. In addition, a description of the exact electrical setup is provided. This protocol details the recordings in the brain of injured animals while preserving most of the uninjured tissue intact, with additional considerations for intralesional and laminar recordings of multi-unit response.

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Sensorimotor response to paw stimulation using cortical laminar recordings.

0 Q&A 1851 Views Oct 20, 2021

PC-1 and PC-2 form an ion channel complex called the polycystin complex, which predominantly localizes to a small hair-like organelle called the primary cilium. The polycystin complex permeates cations, K+, Na+, and Ca2+, and has an unusual 1:3 stoichiometry that combines one PC-1 subunit with three PC-2 subunits. However, the small size and shape of primary cilia impose technical challenges to study the polycystin complex in its native environment. In this paper, we describe the methodology to directly record ion channel activity in primary cilia. This method will allow a detailed functional characterization of how mutations within the polycystin complex cause Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD), essential to develop novel therapeutics for this ciliopathy.

0 Q&A 2736 Views Aug 5, 2021

The Substantia Nigra pars compacta (SNc) is a midbrain dopaminergic nucleus that plays a key role in modulating motor and cognitive functions. It is crucially involved in several disorders, particularly Parkinson’s disease, which is characterized by a progressive loss of SNc dopaminergic cells. Electrophysiological studies on SNc neurons are of paramount importance to understand the role of dopaminergic transmission in health and disease. Here, we provide an extensive protocol to prepare SNc-containing mouse brain slices and record the electrical activity of dopaminergic cells. We describe all the necessary steps, including mouse transcardiac perfusion, brain extraction, slice cutting, and patch-clamp recordings.

0 Q&A 1900 Views Aug 5, 2021

Microbial rhodopsins have diverse functions, including roles as light-driven ion pumps, light-gated ion channels, photosensors, and light-regulated enzymes. As the number of rhodopsin-like genes identified has increased in recent years, so has the requirement for rapid identification of their functions. The patch-clamp method is often used to investigate the ion transport mechanism of microbial rhodopsins in mammalian cells; however, this requires a dedicated system and advanced techniques. The ion transport assay using the Escherichia coli expression system described here evaluates the ion transport capacity by monitoring the pH change in E. coli suspensions; if the target rhodopsin has a light-dependent ion transport activity, a light-dependent pH change is observed. The pH increase or decrease corresponds to proton release from the cell or proton uptake into the cell, respectively. This method can be used to evaluate ion transport capacity in a high-throughput manner using a combination of general-purpose equipment and common techniques.

Graphic abstract:

Schematic diagram of the ion transport assay in rhodopsin-expressing E. coli cells.

0 Q&A 2566 Views Jul 20, 2021

The whole-cell patch-clamp method is a gold standard for single-cell analysis of electrical activity, cellular morphology, and gene expression. Prior to our discovery that patch-clamp pipettes could be cleaned and reused, experimental throughput and automation were limited by the need to replace pipettes manually after each experiment. This article presents an optimized protocol for pipette cleaning, which enables it to be performed quickly (< 30 s), resulting in a high yield of whole-cell recording success rate (> 90%) for over 100 reuses of a single pipette. For most patch-clamp experiments (< 30 whole-cell recordings per day), this method enables a single pipette to be used for an entire day of experiments. In addition, we describe easily implementable hardware and software as well as troubleshooting tips to help other labs implement this method in their own experiments. Pipette cleaning enables patch-clamp experiments to be performed with higher throughput, whether manually or in an automated fashion, by eliminating the tedious and skillful task of replacing pipettes. From our experience with numerous electrophysiology laboratories, pipette cleaning can be integrated into existing patch-clamp setups in approximately one day using the hardware and software described in this article.

Graphic abstract:

Rapid enzymatic cleaning for reuse of patch-clamp pipettes

0 Q&A 3987 Views Jun 20, 2021

Characterization of an electrically active cell, such as a neuron, demands measurement of its electrical properties. Due to differences in gene activation, location, innervation patterns, and functions, the millions of neurons in the mammalian brain are tremendously diverse in their membrane characteristics and abilities to generate action potentials. These features can be measured with a patch-clamp technique in whole-cell current-clamp configuration followed by detailed post-hoc analysis of firing patterns. This analysis can be time-consuming, and different laboratories have their own methods to perform it, either manually or with custom-written scripts. Here, we describe in detail a protocol for firing-pattern registration in neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) as an example and introduce a software for its fast and convenient analysis. With the help of this article, other research groups can easily apply this method and generate unified types of data that are comparable between brain regions and various studies.

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Workflow of the Protocol

0 Q&A 3090 Views Feb 5, 2021

The ion-selective vibrating probe has been used to detect and quantify the magnitude and direction of transmembrane fluxes of several ions in a wide range of biological systems. Inherently non-invasive, vibrating probes have been essential to access relevant electrophysiological parameters related to apical growth and morphogenesis in pollen tubes, a highly specialized cell where spatiotemporal tuning of ion dynamics is fundamental. Of relevance, crucial processes to the cell physiology of pollen tubes associated with protons and anions have been elucidated using vibrating probes, allowing the identification of diverse molecular players underlying and regulating their extracellular fluxes. The use of Arabidopsis thaliana as a genetic model system posed new challenges given their relatively small dimensions and difficult manipulation in vitro. Here, we describe protocol optimizations that made the use of the ion-selective vibrating probe in Arabidopsis pollen tubes feasible, ensuring consistent and reproducible data. Quantitative methods like this enabled characterizing phenotypes of ion transporter mutants, which are not directly detectable by evident morphological and reproductive defects, providing valuable insights into molecular and cellular mechanisms. The protocol for quantifying extracellular proton and anionic fluxes detailed here can be adjusted to other systems and species, while the sample preparation can be applied to correlated techniques, facilitating the research of pollen tube growth and development.

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