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Nat Cell Biol. 2000 Sep;2(9):616-9.

Functional localization of single active ion channels on the surface of a living cell.

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  • 1Division of Medicine, Imperial College School of Medicine, MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Hammersmith Campus, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, UK.


The spatial distribution of ion channels in the cell plasma membrane has an important role in governing regional specialization, providing a precise and localized control over cell function. We report here a novel technique based on scanning ion conductance microscopy that allows, for the first time, mapping of single active ion channels in intact cell plasma membranes. We have mapped the distribution of ATP-regulated K+ channels (KATP channels) in cardiac myocytes. The channels are organized in small groups and anchored in the Z-grooves of the sarcolemma. The distinct pattern of distribution of these channels may have important functional implications.

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