Indexed on: 20 Apr '04Published on: 20 Apr '04Published in: Assay and drug development technologies
In evaluating ion channel function, electrophysiology, e.g., patch clamping, provides the highest information content. For the analysis of ion channel-modulating compounds, one variant of the patch-clamp technique, the whole-cell configuration, is particularly useful. We present here patch-clamp recordings in the whole-cell configuration and single channel recordings performed with planar patch-clamp chips, which are microstructured from borosilicate glass substrate. The chips are used in the Port-a-Patch, an ion channel research/screening instrument that enables automated patch-clamp experiments on a single cell. A software runs the experiment by executing user-determined protocols for cell positioning, as well as for electrical stimulation and current readout. In various electrophysiological experiments, the high quality of recordings and the versatility of the perfusion of the recorded cells are demonstrated. Quantitative pharmacological experiments are performed on sodium channels expressed in HEK cells using solution volumes in the low microliter range. The exceptionally low volume consumption in the experiments make the system attractive for work on rare or expensive compounds. Due to the low volumes necessary, a rapid solution exchange is facilitated, which is shown on RBL cells. The patch-clamp chip enables a rapid and precise perfusion, allowing sophisticated investigations on ion channel function with the Port-a-Patch.