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Patch-clamp fluorometry: electrophysiology meets fluorescence.


Ion channels and transporters are membrane proteins whose functions are driven by conformational changes. Classical biophysical techniques provide insight into either the structure or the function of these proteins, but a full understanding of their behavior requires a correlation of both these aspects in time. Patch-clamp and voltage-clamp fluorometry combine spectroscopic and electrophysiological techniques to simultaneously detect conformational changes and ionic currents across the membrane. Since its introduction, patch-clamp fluorometry has been responsible for invaluable advances in our knowledge of ion channel biophysics. Over the years, the technique has been applied to many different ion channel families to address several biophysical questions with a variety of spectroscopic approaches and electrophysiological configurations. This review illustrates the strength and the flexibility of patch-clamp fluorometry, demonstrating its potential as a tool for future research.