Patch-Clamp Technique Extended to Intracellular Vesicles

Ion channels in the membrane vesicles that mediate intracellular protein transport play a crucial role in cell physiology. A method developed by a team at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich now allows these vesicles to be studied with greater specificity than ever before. Tiny membrane-bound vesicles known as endosomes and lysosomes serve as vehicles for the transport of protein cargoes within animal cells. Embedded in the vesicle membranes are proteins called ion channels, which control the passage of ions into and out of these intracellular organelles. Defects in these proteins play a central role in the pathogenesis of many diseases, and dissection of their molecular functions is vital for the development of effective therapies for these disorders. PD Christian Grimm and Professor Christian Wahl-Schott of the Department of Pharmacy (Director: Professor Martin Biel) at LMU Munich are among Europe's leading specialists in the use of the so-called “patch-clamp” technique for the study of ion channels in cell membranes. In the July 20, 2017 issue of Nature Protocols, these scientists and colleagues describe how they have adapted the method for use with endolysosomal vesicles. The Nature Protocols article is titled “Patch-Clamp Technique to Characterize Ion Channels in Enlarged Individual Endolysosomes.” In a second study, published in the July 20, 2017 issue of Cell Chemical Biology, the scientists go on to demonstrate how patch clamping can be applied to specific functional classes of transport vesicles. This article is titled “Small Molecules for Early Endosome-Specific Patch Clamping.” The work described in the to articles opens up entirely new perspectives for the characterization of ion channels and the mechanisms that regulate them.
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