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Biophys J. 2004 Jun;86(6):3966-80.

Detecting rearrangements of shaker and NaChBac in real-time with fluorescence spectroscopy in patch-clamped mammalian cells.

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Department of Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA.


Time-resolved fluorescence detection of site-directed probes is a major tool in the investigation of structure-function relationships of voltage-dependent ion channels. However, the technique has been limited so far to the Xenopus-oocyte system making it difficult to study proteins, like, e.g., the prokaryotic sodium channel NaChBac, whose expression in oocytes is insufficient or whose physiological functions are distorted in oocytes. To expand the application of site-directed fluorescence detection to these proteins, we used two techniques-semiconfocal epifluorescence and total internal reflection fluorescence-to detect time-resolved fluorescence changes from site-directed labeled proteins expressed in mammalian cells under patch-clamp conditions, and investigated the characteristics and limitations of the techniques. The voltage-sensitive dye, di-8-ANEPPS, was used to monitor control of the membrane voltage in epifluorescence and total internal reflection fluorescence. Fluorescence changes in patch-clamped cells were recorded from a Shaker channel mutant (M356C) labeled in the S3-S4 linker using semiconfocal epifluorescence. The gating kinetics and fluorescence changes were in accordance with previous studies using fluorescence spectroscopy in Xenopus-oocyte systems. We applied our technique to the prokaryotic sodium channel NaChBac. Voltage-dependent protein-rearrangements of S4 could be detected that are independent of inactivation. Comparison of the S3-S4 linker regions revealed structural differences to the KvAP voltage sensor. The results from the NaChBac channel point to structural requirements for the S3-S4 loop to generate a fluorescence signal.

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