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Automated Planar Patch-Clamp

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Ion channels are integral membrane proteins that regulate the flow of ions across the plasma membrane and the membranes of intracellular organelles of both excitable and non-excitable cells. Ion channels are vital to a wide variety of biological processes and are prominent components of the nervous system and cardiovascular system, as well as controlling many metabolic functions. Furthermore, ion channels are known to be involved in many disease states and as such have become popular therapeutic targets. For many years now manual patch-clamping has been regarded as one of the best approaches for assaying ion channel function, through direct measurement of ion flow across these membrane proteins. Over the last decade there have been many remarkable breakthroughs in the development of technologies enabling the study of ion channels. One of these breakthroughs is the development of automated planar patch-clamp technology. Automated platforms have demonstrated the ability to generate high-quality data with high throughput capabilities, at great efficiency and reliability. Additional features such as simultaneous intracellular and extracellular perfusion of the cell membrane, current clamp operation, fast compound application, an increasing rate of parallelization, and more recently temperature control have been introduced. Furthermore, in addition to the well-established studies of over-expressed ion channel proteins in cell lines, new generations of planar patch-clamp systems have enabled successful studies of native and primary mammalian cells. This technology is becoming increasingly popular and extensively used both within areas of drug discovery as well as academic research. Many platforms have been developed including NPC-16 Patchliner and SyncroPatch 96 (Nanion Technologies GmbH, Munich), CytoPatch™ (Cytocentrics AG, Rostock), PatchXpress 7000A, IonWorks Quattro and IonWorks Barracuda™, (Molecular Devices, LLC); Dynaflow HT (Cellectricon AB, M�lndal), QPatch HT (Sophion A/S, Copenhagen), IonFlux HT (Fluxion Bioscience Inc, USA), which have demonstrated the capability to generate recordings similar in quality to that of conventional patch clamping. Here we describe features of Nanion’s NPC-16 Patchliner and processes and protocols suited for this particularly flexible and successful high-throughput automated platform, which is based on planar patch-clamp technology. However, many of the protocols and notes given in this chapter can be applied to other automated patch-clamp platforms, similarly.
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