PhD Student, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Cells use plasma membrane proton fluxes to maintain cytoplasmic and extracellular pH and to mediate the co-transport of metabolites and ions. Because proton-coupled transport often involves movement of multiple substrates, traditional electrical measurements provide limited information about proton transport at the cell surface. My research is focused on developing an optical method to visualize proton fluxes at the cell surface through ion channels or transporters. To visualize proton fluxes over the entire landscape of a cell, I covalently attached small molecule fluorescent pH sensors to the cell surface. I found that the extracellularly facing sensors enable real-time detection of proton accumulation and depletion at the plasma membrane, providing an indirect readout of channel and transporter activity that correlated with whole-cell proton current. Moreover, the proton wavefront emanating from one cell was readily visible as it crossed over nearby cells. Given that any small-molecule fluorescent sensor can be covalently attached to the cell surface. The approach I developed is readily adaptable to visualize most electrogenic and non-electrogenic transport events at the plasma membrane.
Abstract: 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.
Pub.: 25 Mar '14, Pinned: 18 Aug '17
Abstract: Extracellular pH and the Na(+)/H(+) exchanger (NHE1) modulate tumor cell migration. Yet, the pH nanoenvironment at the outer surface of the cell membrane (pH(em)) where cell/matrix interaction occurs and matrix metalloproteinases work was never measured. We present a method to measure this pH nanoenvironment using proton-sensitive dyes to label the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane or the glycocalyx of human melanoma cells. Polarized cells generate an extracellular proton gradient at their surface that increases from the rear end to the leading edge of the lamellipodium along the direction of movement. This gradient collapses upon NHE1 inhibition by HOE642. NHE1 stimulation by intracellular acidification increases the difference in pH(em) between the tips of lamellipodia and the cell body in a Na(+) dependent way. Thus, cells create a pH nanoenvironment that promotes cell migration by facilitating cell adhesion at their front and the release of cell/matrix contacts at their rear part.
Pub.: 01 Sep '07, Pinned: 18 Aug '17
Abstract: Live imaging of exocytosis dynamics is crucial for a precise spatiotemporal understanding of secretion phenomena, but current approaches have serious limitations. We designed and synthesized small-molecular fluorescent probes that were chemically optimized for sensing acidic intravesicular pH values, and established that they can be used to sensitively and reliably visualize vesicular dynamics following stimulation. This straightforward technique for the visualization of exocytosis as well as endocytosis/reacidification processes with high spatiotemporal precision is expected to be a powerful tool for investigating dynamic cellular phenomena involving changes in the pH value.
Pub.: 08 May '14, Pinned: 18 Aug '17
Abstract: Accurate sensing of the extracellular pH is a very important yet challenging task in biological and clinical applications. This paper describes the development of an amphiphilic lipid-DNA molecule as a simple yet useful cell-surface-anchored ratiometric fluorescent probe for extracellular pH sensing. The lipid-DNA probe, which consists of a hydrophobic diacyllipid tail and a hydrophilic DNA strand, is modified with two fluorescent dyes; one is pH-sensitive as pH indicator and the other is pH-insensitive as an internal reference. The lipid-DNA probe showed sensitive and reversible response to pH change in the range of 6.0-8.0, which is suitable for most extracellular studies. In addition, based on simple hydrophobic interactions with the cell membrane, the lipid-DNA probe can be easily anchored on the cell surface with negligible cytotoxicity, excellent stability, and unique ratiometric readout, thus ensuring its accurate sensing of extracellular pH. Finally, this lipid-DNA-based ratiometric pH indicator was successfully used for extracellular pH sensing of cells in 3D culture environment, demonstrating the potential applications of the sensor in biological and medical studies.
Pub.: 12 Aug '14, Pinned: 18 Aug '17
Abstract: Genetically encoded voltage indicators (GEVIs) are a promising technology for fluorescence readout of millisecond-scale neuronal dynamics. Prior GEVIs had insufficient signaling speed and dynamic range to resolve action potentials in live animals. We coupled fast voltage-sensing domains from a rhodopsin protein to bright fluorophores via resonance energy transfer. The resulting GEVIs are sufficiently bright and fast to report neuronal action potentials and membrane voltage dynamics in awake mice and flies, resolving fast spike trains with 0.2-millisecond timing precision at spike detection error rates orders of magnitude better than prior GEVIs. In vivo imaging revealed sensory-evoked responses, including somatic spiking, dendritic dynamics, and intracellular voltage propagation. These results empower in vivo optical studies of neuronal electrophysiology and coding and motivate further advancements in high-speed microscopy.
Pub.: 19 Nov '15, Pinned: 18 Aug '17
Abstract: Voltage-gated ion channels mediate electrical dynamics in excitable tissues and are an important class of drug targets. Channels can gate in sub-millisecond timescales, show complex manifolds of conformational states, and often show state-dependent pharmacology. Mechanistic studies of ion channels typically involve sophisticated voltage-clamp protocols applied through manual or automated electrophysiology. Here, we develop all-optical electrophysiology techniques to study activity-dependent modulation of ion channels, in a format compatible with high-throughput screening. Using optical electrophysiology, we recapitulate many voltage-clamp protocols and apply to Nav1.7, a channel implicated in pain. Optical measurements reveal that a sustained depolarization strongly potentiates the inhibitory effect of PF-04856264, a Nav1.7-specific blocker. In a pilot screen, we stratify a library of 320 FDA-approved compounds by binding mechanism and kinetics, and find close concordance with patch clamp measurements. Optical electrophysiology provides a favorable tradeoff between throughput and information content for studies of NaV channels, and possibly other voltage-gated channels.
Pub.: 25 May '16, Pinned: 18 Aug '17
Abstract: Recent advances in optogenetics have opened new routes to drug discovery, particularly in neuroscience. Physiological cellular assays probe functional phenotypes that connect genomic data to patient health. Optogenetic tools, in particular tools for all-optical electrophysiology, now provide a means to probe cellular disease models with unprecedented throughput and information content. These techniques promise to identify functional phenotypes associated with disease states and to identify compounds that improve cellular function regardless of whether the compound acts directly on a target or through a bypass mechanism. This review discusses opportunities and unresolved challenges in applying optogenetic techniques throughout the discovery pipeline - from target identification and validation, to target-based and phenotypic screens, to clinical trials.
Pub.: 30 May '17, Pinned: 18 Aug '17
Abstract: Cells use plasma membrane proton fluxes to maintain cytoplasmic and extracellular pH and to mediate the co-transport of metabolites and ions. Because proton-coupled transport often involves movement of multiple substrates, traditional electrical measurements provide limited information about proton transport at the cell surface. Here we visualize voltage-dependent proton fluxes over the entire landscape of a cell by covalently attaching small-molecule fluorescent pH sensors to the cell's glycocalyx. We found that the extracellularly facing sensors enable real-time detection of proton accumulation and depletion at the plasma membrane, providing an indirect readout of channel and transporter activity that correlated with whole-cell proton current. Moreover, the proton wavefront emanating from one cell was readily visible as it crossed over nearby cells. Given that any small-molecule fluorescent sensor can be covalently attached to a cell's glycocalyx, our approach is readily adaptable to visualize most electrogenic and non-electrogenic transport events at the plasma membrane.
Pub.: 06 Dec '16, Pinned: 18 Aug '17