Cell Biology


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0 Q&A 2552 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 2232 Views Oct 20, 2021

The thoracic paravertebral sympathetic chain postganglionic neurons (tSPNs) represent the predominant sympathetic control of vascular function in the trunk and upper extremities. tSPNs cluster to form ganglia linked by an interganglionic nerve and receive multisegmental convergent and divergent synaptic input from cholinergic sympathetic preganglionic neurons of the spinal cord (Blackman and Purves, 1969; Lichtman et al., 1980). Studies in the past have focused on cervical and lumbar chain ganglia in multiple species, but few have examined the thoracic chain ganglia, whose location and diminutive size make them less conducive to experimentation. Seminal studies on the integrative properties of preganglionic axonal projections onto tSPNs were performed in guinea pig (Blackman and Purves, 1969; Lichtman et al., 1980), but as mice have become the accepted mammalian genetic model organism, there is need to reproduce and expand on these studies in this smaller model. We describe an ex vivo approach that enables electrophysiological, calcium imaging, and optogenetic assessment of convergence, divergence, and studies on pre- to postganglionic synaptic transmission, as well as whole-cell recordings from individual tSPNs. Preganglionic axonal connections from intact ventral roots and interganglionic nerves across multiple segments can be stimulated to evoke compound action potential responses in individual thoracic ganglia as recorded with suction electrodes. Chemical block of synaptic transmission differentiates spiking of preganglionic axons from synaptically-recruited tSPNs. Further dissection, including removal of the sympathetic chain, enables whole-cell patch clamp recordings from individual tSPNs for characterization of cellular and synaptic properties.

0 Q&A 3301 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 4715 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.

Graphic abstract:

Workflow of the Protocol

0 Q&A 4829 Views Jan 5, 2020
Cardiac pacemaker cells of the sino-atrial node are responsible for the initiation of the heart beat and express an array of ion channels. The patch-clamp technique is the gold standard method for investigating the function of ion channels expressed in electrically active cells. Conventional whole-cell and perforated patch-clamp techniques can be used to investigate ionic currents in the voltage-clamp mode and changes in membrane potential (e.g., action potential) in the current-clamp mode. Here, we provide details of protocols used to measure spontaneous and triggered action potentials and whole-cell funny current If (HCN4) in single cardiomyocytes isolated from the mouse sino-atrial node (SAN).
0 Q&A 11074 Views Apr 20, 2018
Neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is the specialized chemical synapse that mediates the transmission of the electrical impulse running along motor neuron axons to skeletal muscle fibers. NMJ is the best characterized chemical synapse and its study along many years of research has provided most of the general knowledge of synapse development, structure and functionality.

Electrophysiology is the most accurate experimental procedure to study NMJ physiology and it largely contributed to the elucidation of synaptic transmission basic principles. Many electrophysiological techniques have been developed to study NMJ physiology and physiopathology. In this paper, we describe an ex vivo tissue preparation for electrophysiology that can be applied to investigate nerve-muscle transmission functionality in mice. It is routinely used in our laboratory to study presynaptic neurotoxins, antitoxins, and to monitor NMJ degeneration and regeneration. This is a broadly applicable technique which can also be adopted to investigate alterations of NMJ activity in mouse models of neuromuscular diseases, including peripheral neuropathies, motor neuron disorders and myasthenic syndromes.

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