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01.07.2021 | Webinar: SSM-electrophysiology as a Tool for Uncovering Transporter Function
Olga Boudker, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics
(Weill Cornell Medical College)
Lars Jeuken, Professor of Molecular Biophysics
(Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds)

Olga Boudker, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics
(Weill Cornell Medical College)


Human excitatory amino acid transporter 3 (hEAAT3) mediates glutamate uptake in neurons, intestine, and kidney. We have determined cryo-EM structures of hEAAT3 in several functional states where the transporter is empty, bound to coupled sodium ions only, or fully loaded with three sodium ions, a proton, and the substrate aspartate. The structures suggest that hEAAT3 operates by an elevator mechanism involving three functionally independent subunits. When the substrate-binding site is near the cytoplasm, it has a remarkably low affinity for the substrate, perhaps facilitating its release and allowing the rapid transport turnover. The mechanism of the coupled uptake of the sodium ions and the substrate is conserved across evolutionarily distant families and is augmented by coupling to protons in EAATs. The structures further suggest a mechanism by which a conserved glutamate residue mediates proton symport.

Title: SSM-based electrophysiological characterization of a metal transporter

Lars Jeuken, Professor of Molecular Biophysics,
(Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds)


Transition metals are essential trace elements and their high-affinity uptake is required for many organisms. Metal transporters are often characterized using metal-sensitive fluorescent dyes encapsulated in proteoliposomes, limiting the metals and experimental conditions that can be studied. Here, we have tested whether metal transport by Enterococcus faecalis MntH2 can be measured with the solid-supported membrane (SSM) technology. SSM uptake assays confirm transport of Mn(II), Co(II), Zn(II), and Cd(II) by MntH2. However, no uptake responses for Cu(II), Fe(II) nor Ni(II) were observed, while the presence of these metals abolishes the uptake signals for Mn(II). Although E. faecalis MntH2 is hypothesized to be a proton-metal symporter, no proton symport could be detected with either SSM or fluorescence assays. These data are discussed with respect to fluorescence uptake assays with Mn(II) and Ni(II), where transport was measured on the time scale of minutes, in sharp contrast to the sub-second timescale of the SSM technology.

02.12.2021 | Webinar: Structure and Function of Na+ and H+ dependent transporters
Speakers: Professor David Drew
(Stockholm University, Professor in Biochemistry)
Associate Professor Dr. Matthias Quick
(Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Departments of Psychiatry and Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Associate Professor of Neurobiology)

Title: Structure and mechanism of the Na+/H+ exchanger NHA2

Professor David Drew
(Stockholm University, Professor in Biochemistry)

Abstract: SLC9B2, also known as NHA2, correlates with the long-sought after sodium/lithium (Na+/Li+) exchanger linked to the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus and essential hypertension in humans. Despite its functional importance, structural information and the molecular basis of its ion-exchange mechanism have been lacking. Here, we I briefly present the cryo EM structures of bison NHA2 in detergent and in nanodiscs at 3.0 and 3.5 Å resolution, respectively. I will then show how SSM-based electrophysiology has enabled us to conclude that NHA2 catalyses the electroneutral rather than electrogenic exchange of ions. The ion-binding site is quite distinctive, with a tryptophan-arginine-glutamate triad separated from the well-established ion-binding aspartates. These triad residues fine-tune ion binding specificity, as demonstrated by a salt-bridge swap mutant that converts NHA2 into a Li+-specific transporter.

Title: The molecular mechanism of the Na+/H+ antiporter NhaA – from binding to flux

Associate Professor Dr. Matthias Quick
(Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Departments of Psychiatry and Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Associate Professor of Neurobiology)

Abstract: The Na+/H+ antiporter NhaA represents the archetype of Na+/H+ exchangers, evolutionarily conserved proteins in all kingdoms of life that are essential in cellular ion homeostasis. While structural information has provided excellent starting points in developing mechanistic models of NhaA-mediated transport, the correlation between the correlation of Na+ and H+ binding and flux remains still enigmatic. Since structural information about the composition of the Na+ and H+ sites in NhaA is missing, functional assays are required to gain insight into the molecular events that regulate NhaA activity. By using the SURFE2R N1 SSM platform, our team was able to collect data of NhaA-mediated ion flux across the membrane of NhaA-containing proteoliposomes. Direct Na+ binding studies in conjunction with flux studies reveal that, whereas Na+ transport is impaired at low pH, NhaA can bind Na+ in pH-independent fashion, providing new insight into the interplay of the two cations during transport.

03.11.2016 | External Webinar: Accelerating Ion Channel Characterization and New Drug Candidate Identification
Authors: Alfred George; Matt Fuller
04.06.2020 | Webinar: Decrypting variants of unknown significance in the channelopathies
Authors: Rodolfo Haedo, Jen Q. Pan; Al George
06.05.2021 | Webinar: Secondary transport inhibition and regulation by SSM-electrophysiology
Professor Dr. Christine Ziegler
(University of Regensburg, Faculty of Biology and Pre-Clinics, Institute of Biophysics and physical Biochemistry, Structural Biology-Biophysics II)

Professor Dr. Camilo Perez
(University of Basel, Biozentrum, Center for Molecular Life Sciences)

Title: The K+ switch in BetP: from coupling to regulation

Professor Dr. Christine Ziegler
(University of Regensburg, Faculty of Biology and Pre-Clinics, Institute of Biophysics and physical Biochemistry, Structural Biology-Biophysics II)

Abstract: The bacterial betaine transporter BetP is a prime example for an efficient osmotic stress sensor and regulated secondary transporter, respectively. BetP’s full activation depends on the presence of 300mM internal K+, however, K+ is not transported. Several K+ binding sites were identified at the osmo-sensor, but also close to a Na+ site. We introduced a point mutation based in one of the two sodium binding sites in order to switch BetP from Na+ to K+ coupling. Using cryoEM/X-ray crystallography combined with SSM/Stopped-Flow Trp-fluorescence we discovered an intriguing competition between Na+ and K+ binding in BetP, which hints towards a change in the functional role of K+ in LeuT-fold transporter during evolution. BetP shares its overall fold with SLC6 neurotransmitter transporters, which also show differences in their ability to facilitate K+-coupled antiport. Therefore, our structure-function study provides new insights into an evolutionary switching of K+ between coupling to regulatory ion.

Title: Selection of transporter-targeted inhibitory nanobodies by SSM-based electrophysiology

Professor Dr. Camilo Perez
(University of Basel, Biozentrum, Center for Molecular Life Sciences)

Abstract: Single domain antibodies (nanobodies) have been extensively used in machanistic and structural studies of protein and pose an enormous potential as tools for developing clinical therapies, many of which depend on inhibition of membrane proteins such as transporters.However, most of the methods used to determine inhibition of transport activity are difficult to perform in high-throughput routines and depend on labeled substrates availability. This complicates the screening of large nanobody libraries. Solid-supported membrane (SSM) electrophysiology to select inhibitory and non-inhibitory nanobodies targeting an electrogenic secondary transporter and to calculate nanobodies inhibitory constants. This technique may be especially useful for selecting inhibitory nanobodies targeting transporters for which labeled substrates are not available.

07.03.2013 | Webinar: Top gear ion channel screening
Authors: Nanion Experts
07.06.2016 | External Webinar: A new analysis capability to improve assessment of cardiac liability in high throughput electrophysiology
Authors: Ana Teixeira ; Matthew Bridgelend-Taylor
07.09.2021 | Webinar: Automated patch clamp assay development for the study of red blood cells (RBCs) in health and disease
Presenters: Nicoletta Murciano (PhD Candidate - Nanion Technologies ), Dr. Lars Kaestner (Professor - Saarland University)

Calcium (Ca2+) is a universal signalling molecule and is critically important in regulating many physiological functions and survival of RBCs. Amongst others, intracellular Ca2+ controls cell volume and deformability. This process plays a substantial role in RBCs since their volume needs to adapt when passing blood vessel constrictions during the flow. Excessive Ca2+ uptake also leads to accelerated cell clearance causing anaemia.

Therefore, studying Ca2+ regulation is crucial to understand RBC diseases. Piezo1, KCa3.1 (Gardos channel) and NMDA receptors are three channels present in the RBC membrane and critical for Ca2+ regulation.

We developed functional assays to measure these channels in healthy and diseased RBCs populations using electrophysiological tools, contributing to the characterization of RBC diseases.

07.10.2015 | Webinar: Patch Clamp Made Easy, Fast Track to Excellence
This webinar shows applications that go way beyond possibilities of conventional patch-clamping, where the Port-a-Patch facilitates completely novel scientific directions.

The Port-a-Patch platform, used in the scientific work presented in this webinar, is a highly versatile patch clamp platform for high quality recordings form cells, organelles and artificial membranes.
The Port-a-Patch is a semi-automated patch clamp device supporting stable giga-seals and excellent voltage-control of the membrane.
The Port-a-Patch replaces a classical patch clamp rig, is easy to learn, still with the same quality and accuracy as known from conventional gold standard patch clamp. However, the planar geometry, compact size and versatile add-ons, allows an unprecedented experimental freedom of this platform.

This webinar shows applications that go way beyond possibilities of conventional patch-clamping, where the Port-a-Patch facilitates completely novel scientific directions. The high scientific impact of the Port-a-Patch is illustrated by its vast publications list, including high rank journals such as Science, Nature, PNAS.

07.12.2021 | Webinar: Comprehensive Technologies for Quantitative Analysis of Cell Physiology
Ron Knox, PhD Scientist (Nanion Technologies) (University Hospital Regensburg; Germany)
Laurie A. Boyer, PhD Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

In this webinar we highlight impedance-based platforms (CardioExcyte 96 and FLEXcyte 96) and a high-throughput automated patch clamp (APC) instrument, the SyncroPatch 384.

The broad range and versatility of cell-based assays easily performed with these Automated Patch Clamp and cell monitoring systems, make them an excellent choice for integration into a core cell screening center/therapy/ biomanufacturing facility and traditional academic labs around the globe.

08.05.2018 | Webinar: HTS Sodium Ion Channel Assays on the SyncroPatch 384PE
Authors: Markus Rapedius; Elisa Ballini
11.03.2021 | Webinar: automated patch clamp webinar high throughput functional evaluation of melanocortin and a CiPA based evaluation of proarrhythmic risk
Authors: Ciara Hernandez, Yuri Kuryshev
11.05.2013 | Webinar: Patchliner – unlimited experimental freedom
This Webinar covers the features of the Patchlliner, including the "minimized cell usage" for expensive cells.

The presentation will address the general setup and special features of the Patchliner from Nanion. One highlight is the recently published procedure to minimize cell usage for stem cell-derived and primary cells on our most flexible automated patch clamp device. Furthermore, fast perfusion, temperature control capabilities and current clamp are discussed and case studies are presented.

12.09.2018 | Webinar: CiPA study: Bridging ion channel and myocyte data
Authors: Dr. Sonja Stölzle-Feix
CiPA myocyte phase II validation study results: cross-site comparison using the CardioExcyte 96;
HTS Phase I study: an update on progress of the CiPA Ion Channel Work Stream using the SyncroPatch 384PE and Patchliner

Get up-to-date with the CiPA progress of the Myocyte and Ion Channel Work Goups: Since 2005 the S7B and E14 guidances from ICH and FDA have been in place to assess a potential drug candidate's ability to cause long QT syndrome. To refine these guidelines, the FDA proposed the Comprehensive in vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative, where the assessment of drug effects on cardiac repolarization was one subject of investigation. Within the myocyte validation study, effects of pharmaceutical compounds on human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) were assessed and this article will focus on the evaluation of the proarrhythmic potential of 23 blinded drugs in four hiPSC-CM cell lines.

Experiments were performed on the CardioExcyte 96 at different sites. A combined readout of contractility (via impedance) and electrophysiology endpoints (field potentials) was performed.Our data demonstrates that hERG blockers such as dofetilide and further high risk categorized compounds prolong the field potential duration. Arrhythmia were detected in both impedance as well as field potential recordings. Intermediate risk compounds induced arrhythmia in almost all cases at the highest dose. In the case of low risk compounds, either a decrease in FPDmax was observed, or not a significant change from pre-addition control values.

With exceptions, hiPSC-CMs are sensitive and exhibit at least 10% delayed or shortened repolarization from pre-addition values and arrhythmia after drug application and thus can provide predictive cardiac electrophysiology data. The baseline electrophysiological parameters vary between iPS cells from different sources, therefore positive and negative control recordings are recommended.

12.09.2018 | Webinar: CiPA study: Bridging ion channel and myocyte data
Authors: Tim Strassmaier

Get up-to-date with the CiPA progress of the Myocyte and Ion Channel Work Goups: Since 2005 the S7B and E14 guidances from ICH and FDA have been in place to assess a potential drug candidate's ability to cause long QT syndrome. To refine these guidelines, the FDA proposed the Comprehensive in vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative, where the assessment of drug effects on cardiac repolarization was one subject of investigation. Within the myocyte validation study, effects of pharmaceutical compounds on human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) were assessed and this article will focus on the evaluation of the proarrhythmic potential of 23 blinded drugs in four hiPSC-CM cell lines.

Experiments were performed on the CardioExcyte 96 at different sites. A combined readout of contractility (via impedance) and electrophysiology endpoints (field potentials) was performed.Our data demonstrates that hERG blockers such as dofetilide and further high risk categorized compounds prolong the field potential duration. Arrhythmia were detected in both impedance as well as field potential recordings. Intermediate risk compounds induced arrhythmia in almost all cases at the highest dose. In the case of low risk compounds, either a decrease in FPDmax was observed, or not a significant change from pre-addition control values.

With exceptions, hiPSC-CMs are sensitive and exhibit at least 10% delayed or shortened repolarization from pre-addition values and arrhythmia after drug application and thus can provide predictive cardiac electrophysiology data. The baseline electrophysiological parameters vary between iPS cells from different sources, therefore positive and negative control recordings are recommended.

User meeting video
12.10.2020 | Webinar: From Manual to Automated Planar Patch-Clamp Electrophysiology: Accelerating Drug Discovery Research in Academic Settings
Authors: Fernanda Laezza
User meeting video
12.10.2020 | Webinar: PatchAnalytics
Authors: Lei A. Wang
User meeting video
12.10.2020 | Webinar: The Sodium Channel Network Aachen meets the SyncroPatch
Authors: Angelika Lampert
13.10.2020 | Webinar: Employing SSM electrophysiology to capture electrogenic fluxes in membrane proteins
Dr. Matthias Quick (Columbia University; NY, USA)
This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.

My lab has been focusing on the study of ion-dependent transporters with special emphasis on Na+ or H+-coupled symporters. Whereas flux studies with radiolabeled solutes using the target protein reconstituted in proteoliposomes provided a wealth of information, the determination of the thermodynamically-coupled solute transport-associated flux of H+ or Na+ has been challenging. This can be attributed in part to the low transport turnover numbers of these transporters and difficulties associated with their functional expression in suitable model systems that allow for their characterization with traditional electrophysiological methods (e.g., two-electrode voltage clamp or patch-clamp methods).

By using the SURFE2R N1 SSM platform, our team was able to quickly collect data of solute transport-associated flux of co-transported ions across the membrane of proteoliposomes containing different target proteins. With this technology it is possible to collect data for a full kinetic characterization of a target protein such as its dependence on substrate and ion concentrations, pH, and potential essential additives, as well as its substrate recognition profile. The SURFE2R system also enables the use of a wide range of substrates that are readily commercially available, avoiding the use of radiolabeled compounds.

13.10.2020 | Webinar: Impedance measurements and Calcium imaging to investigate the role of store operated Ca2+ entry in GPCR-mediated endothelial barrier regulation
Dr. Judith Stolwijk (University Hospital Regensburg; Germany)
This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.

The endothelium of our blood vessels is under the control of various G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), regulating endothelial barrier function, vascular tone, angiogenesis and inflammation. Some of these GPCRs signal via Gq,11 protein, which activates Ca2+-release from the IP3-sensitive internal stores of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Calcium store depletion can subsequently activate so-called store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) via the ER-resident Ca2+-sensor stromal-interacting molecule 1 (STIM1) and Orai1 Ca2+ entry channels.

We used Impedance measurements and ratiometric Calcium imaging to investigate the role of calcium entry via Orai1 channels downstream of barrier-regulating GPCRs in response to their agonists Thrombin, Histamine and Sphingosine-1-Phosphate (S1P) in human endothelial cells.

13.10.2020 | Webinar: Profiling the pharmacology of G-Protein coupled receptors (GPCR) in cell-based assays using label-free impedance analysis
Michael Skiba (University Hospital Regensburg; Germany)
This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.

G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are among the most heavily addressed drug targets in medicinal chemistry and pharmacology. It has been estimated that about 40 % of all prescription pharmaceuticals on the market address GPCRs in different target tissues. The screening for new agonists or antagonists has been largely based on assays studying genetically engineered cells for the (i) potential binding of the ligand to their receptors or (ii) the production of second messengers upon receptor activation. Both approaches require invasive experimental procedures. Thus, they need to be performed as endpoint assays that do not reveal the time course of the cell response or details about intrinsic signal amplification. In contrast to that, non-invasive and label-free impedance monitoring has been developed over the last decades providing the response of target cells to receptor activation in real time. The technique is referred to as electric cell-substrate impedance sensing or short ECIS. In ECIS the cells are grown on planar gold-film electrodes that are integrated into regular cell culture dishes. Most recently, these electrode bearing dishes have been made commercially available in standard 96well format. The impedance of the cell-covered electrodes is measured with non-invasive electrical signals and reports on the cell response with a time resolution that is adjustable from minutes to milliseconds. This article will highlight several different approaches how non-invasive impedance measurements are used to characterize the pharmacology of GPCRs in cell-based assays comprising agonist assays, antagonist assays, dose-response relationships, signal transduction profiling and it will introduce a new dosing scheme that increases the experimental throughput significantly.

14.07.2022 | Webinar: An in silico-in vitro pipeline for drug cardiotoxicity screening identifies ionic proarrhythmia mechanisms
Dr. András Horváth, Application Scientist (Nanion Technologies)

Automating action potential pharmacology in hiPSC cardiomyocytes

Alex Clark, Ph.D. Student - Christini Lab (Cornell University)

An in silico-in vitro pipeline for drug cardiotoxicity screening identifies ionic proarrhythmia mechanisms

All new drugs are screened for their proarrhythmic potential using a method that is overly conservative and provides limited mechanistic insight, which can lead to the misclassification of beneficial drugs as proarrhythmic. Here, we developed an in silico-in vitro pipeline to circumvent these shortcomings. An iPSC-CM computational model was used to design electrophysiological voltage-clamp (VC) protocols for use during in vitro drug studies. Such VC data, along with AP recordings, were acquired from iPSC-CMs before and after treatment with a control solution or verapamil, cisapride, quinine, or quinidine. AP prolongation was seen in response to quinidine and quinine. The VC protocol identified all strong IKr blockers. The protocol also detected block of ICaL by verapamil and Ito by quinidine. The VC data also uncovered a previously unidentified If block by quinine, which was confirmed with experiments using a HEK-293 expression system and automated patch-clamp.

User meeting video
14.10.2020 | Webinar: Development and validation of ASIC1a ligand-gated ion channel drug discovery assays on automated patch clamp platforms.
Authors: Marc Rogers, This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.

Whilst voltage-gated ion channels formed the bulk of academic and industrial effort in developing and utilising APC assays for ion channel drug discovery, recent years have seen increasing interest in ligand-gated receptors. These targets offer specific challenges for APC systems in terms of lower channel expression, rapid application and wash-off of ligands, and loss of responsiveness due to short- and long-term desensitisation. In this presentation I will outline successful development of pipette- and tip-based APC assay formats for the rapidly-activating ASIC1A channel on the Patchliner and SyncroPatch384i.

User meeting video
14.10.2020 | Webinar: Measurement of Transient receptor potential cation (TRP) channels using the Patchliner and Port-a-Patch
Dr. András Horváth (Nanion Technologies; Germany) This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.

CHO cells expressing transient receptor potential cation channel V (TRPV) members 1, 3 and 4 and subfamily M member 8 were studied using our automated patch clamp systems, the Patchliner Octo (PL) and Port-a-Patch Perfusion (PaPP). During the recordings, heat, cold and/or ligand activation was performed. A classical ramp pulse-protocol (–100 mV to 100 mV) was applied.

Heat activation of TRPV1, 3, 4 channels was performed repeatedly by the heated pipetted (37-45 °C) of the PL. Interestingly ruthenium red (RR, 50 and 200 µM) was not able to prevent heat activation. Experiments involving TRPV4 were also performed on the PaPP. The cannel could be activated by heat and only partially blocked by RR. Ligand activation could be also performed on the PL (10 µM Capsaicin – TRPV1, 200 µM 2-APB – TRPV3, 100 nM GSK1016790 – TRPV4) and TRPV4 on the PaPP. In all cases the effect could be inhibited using blockers. TRPM8 channel could be repetitively activated using solution at 10°C on the PaPP at 10 °C. Capsazepine (10 µM) was used to block the activated current.

Both the PL and PaPP are powerful tools to study TRP channel physiology (both using heat activation and ligand activation) and could be used to find compounds which block the temperature and ligand response separately.

14.10.2020 | Webinar: Pharmacological Characterization of Natural Tobacco Alkaloids in the Presence of Positive Allosteric Modulators Against Humana4b2 and a7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors
Dr. Omar Alijevic (Philip Morris International)

This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.

The pharmacological profile of tobacco alkaloids is essential for understanding their physiological effects. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are an important target of tobacco alkaloids with primarily agonistic effects reported for α4β2 nAChRs, but with minimal evidence of α7 activity. In this study, we used a membrane potential assay and automated patch-clamp electrophysiological approaches to functionally characterize distinct groups of tobacco alkaloids in the presence of a subunit-specific positive allosteric modulator (PAM) of human α4β2 and α7 nAChRs. We screened a total of 71 tobacco alkaloids, of which 16 were active against α4β2 and 11 against α7 nAChRs.

The most abundant alkaloids in tobacco leaves—namely nicotine, nornicotine, anabasine, (S)-anatabine, and (R)-anatabine—exhibited potencies (EC50alkaloid+PAM) of 0.02-20 μM against α4β2 and 0.2-10 μM against α7 nAChRs. In the presence of the PAM, nicotine and anabasine, respectively, were found to be the most potent α4β2 and α7 nAChRs agonists. Relative to (S)-anatabine, (R)-anatabine was 5-fold more potent against α4β2; the relationship was found to be inverse in case of α7 nAChRs. In addition, 13 alkaloids demonstrated agonistic effects only in the presence of the PAM and were, therefore, considered to be silent agonists. In conclusion, the data revealed 17 naturally occurring tobacco alkaloids that exhibited a dramatic increase in potency against human α4β2 and α7 nAChRs in the presence of PAMs (relative to that in the absence of the PAM). Our study recognized a subunit-specific enantiomer preference of anatabine and identified several alkaloids with silent agonist properties for human α4β2 and α7 nAChRs.

14.10.2020 | Webinar: TRP channels in human corneal cells and their role in ophthalmology
Prof. Dr. Stefan Mergler (Charité -Universitätsmedizin Berlin; Germany) This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.
User meeting video
15.10.2020 | Webinar: Benchmarking best practices and calibration standards for HTS hERG recordings for improved proarrhythmic assessment
Dr. Alison Obergrussberger (Nanion Technologies), This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.

The use of automated patch clamp (APC) electrophysiology in cardiac safety screening has increased over the years, and APC is now an established and accepted technique in most, if not all, safety testing laboratories. Since the introduction of the ICH S7B non-clinical guidance in November 2005 which requires all new drugs to be tested for activity on the IKr current carried by hERG expressed in recombinant cell lines using the patch-clamp technique, very few drugs have been withdrawn from the market due to pro-arrhythmic complications. APC has become the major workhorse in safety testing laboratories and is now considered to be the gold standard. Furthermore, with the introduction of the comprehensive in vitro pro-arrhythmia assay (CiPA) which recommends expanding electrophysiological recordings to include other cardiac ion channels, APC will continue to play a major role in cardiac safety testing. Recently, a large study comparing the results of a set of standard compounds tested on different instruments at different sites has been published[1] which highlights the need for standardized protocols for reliable results, for example, for hERG recordings.

We have undertaken a study to identify key parameters that can affect IC50 values of compounds acting on hERG using the medium and high throughput APC systems, Patchliner, SyncroPatch 384PE and SyncroPatch 384i. Effects of experimental parameters such as voltage protocol, incubation time, labware, compound storage time and replicate number on IC50 values of a set of CiPA compounds will be presented and recommendations for best practices for hERG measurements using APC is provided. Furthermore, as outlined in the 2020 Best Practice Consideration for In vitro Studies, ‘The concentration of compound to which the cells were exposed should be verified by applying a validated analytical method to the solution collected from the cell chamber’[2] in patch clamp studies. Nanion has implemented a new procedure that enables sample collection from used wells from the NPC-384 chips and this will be described.

User meeting video
15.10.2020 | Webinar: Evaluation of possible proarrhythmic potency: variability of IC50 values of drugs under different conditions and in different platforms
Dr. Péter Orvos (University of Szeged), This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.

The conventional microelectrode technique and the manual patch clamp method offer direct, information-rich, and real-time in vitro technologies to study proarrhythmic effect of drugs and drug candidate compounds. Although providing excellent data quality, these tests are complicated, time consuming and expensive for the large numbers of compounds. Automated patch-clamp platforms are mainly used with stably expressing cell lines and suitable for rapid and high-quality pharmacological investigation of drug candidates. The Comprehensive in Vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) was initiated to further improve these preclinical drug safety paradigms. However, some evidence indicates that the different proarrhythmic pharmacological assays result in contradictory outcomes raising serious questions regarding their predictability for in vivo situations including clinical settings. IC50 values may varied between platforms, therefore, aim of our study was to compare the effect of proarrhythmic compounds on hERG and IKr currents and on cardiac action potential. The hERG current was measured by using both automated and manual patch clamp methods on HEK293 cells. The native ion current (IKr) were recorded from rabbit ventricular myocytes by manual patch clamp technique.

Dofetilide, cisapride, sotalol, terfenadine and verapamil were tested in hERG assay at both room temperature and 37°C with Patchliner. All these compounds were more potent at physiological temperature and therefore, it is a desirable option to study hERG currents at physiological temperature. To evaluate the prognostic value of hERG assay these agents were subjected for further investigations. The IKr current blocking capability of the compounds was tested on rabbit ventricular myocytes with manual patch clamp method at 37°C. The corresponding IC50 values of dofetilide, cisapride and verapamil were in good agreement with IC50 values obtained with Patchliner in hERG assays. As sotalol and terfenadine have stronger effect on IKr measured by manual patch clamp method compared with hERG automated patch clamp experiments, the effects of these drugs on hERG current using manual patch clamp technique were also investigated to study how the potency of these drugs are influenced by the experimental techniques themselves. In contrast with the hERG automated patch clamp assays, the effects of sotalol and terfenadine on hERG current were stronger measured by the manual patch-clamp technique.

In conclusion, results obtained with automated patch-clamp equipment in HEK-hERG cells usually show a reasonable conformity with outcomes of IKr current experiments. The Patchliner system used in our study is well suited to perform safety pharmacological studies. Variability of IC50 values of drugs in different platforms observed in certain cases, which could have been caused by the lack of continuous flow of compound-containing solutions.

User meeting video
15.10.2020 | Webinar: Heart slice culture system reliably demonstrates clinical drug-related cardiotoxicity
Speakers: Dr. Tamer M. Mohamed (University of Louisville), This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.

The limited availability of human heart tissue and its complex cell composition are major limiting factors for the reliable testing of drug efficacy and toxicity. Recently, we developed functional human and pig heart slice biomimetic culture systems that preserve the viability and functionality of 300 μm heart slices for up to 6 days. Here, we tested the reliability of this culture system for testing the cardiotoxicity of anti-cancer drugs. We tested three anti-cancer drugs (doxorubicin, trastuzumab, and sunitinib) with known different mechanisms of cardiotoxicity at three concentrations and assessed the effect of these drugs on heart slice viability, structure, function and gene expression. Slices incubated with any of these drugs for 48 h showed diminished in viability as well as loss of cardiomyocyte structure and function. Mechanistically, RNA sequencing of doxorubicin-treated tissues demonstrated a significant downregulation of cardiac genes and upregulation of oxidative stress responses. Trastuzumab treatment downregulated cardiac muscle contraction-related genes consistent with its clinically known effect on cardiomyocytes. Interestingly, sunitinib treatment resulted in significant downregulation of angiogenesis-related genes, in line with its mechanism of action. Similar to hiPS-derived-cardiomyocytes, heart slices recapitulated the expected toxicity of doxorubicin and trastuzumab, however, slices were superior in detecting sunitinib cardiotoxicity and mechanism in the clinically relevant concentration range of 0.1–1 μM. These results indicate that heart slice culture models have the potential to become a reliable platform for testing and elucidating mechanisms of drug cardiotoxicity.

User meeting video
15.10.2020 | Webinar: ICH S7B best practices considerations – New Q&As and Benchmarking best practices
Dr. Sonja Stoelzle-Feix (Nanion Technologies), This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.

The ICH E14/S7B Implementation Working Group released a draft version on August 28th 2020 on “Clinical and Nonclinical Evaluation of QT/QTc Interval Prolongation and Proarrhythmic Potential Questions and Answers”. This document is open for public consultation and comprises proposed revisions for some sections of the current Q&A´s for ICH E14. Furthermore, new Q&A for ICH S7B are included.

This talk will focus on best practice outlines as depicted in the draft version, specifically on in vitro cardiac ion channel assays. The ultimate goal is to provide a more robust and reproducible evaluation of potency of drug block of cardiac ion channel current using patch clamp techniques and heterologous expression systems.

User meeting video
15.10.2020 | Webinar: Turning Cells into Reagents
Authors: Oliver Wehmeier; Tim Strassmaier
16.06.2020 | Webinar: Functional studies on membrane transporters using the SURFE2R N1

Dr. Maria Barthmes (Product Manager, Nanion Technologies)
Dr. Andre Bazzone (Application Scientist, Nanion Technologies)

SSM (solid supported membrane)-based electrophysiology employed by the SURFE2R instruments is a capacitive sensor-based method to detect membrane currents generated by low turnover proteins such as transporters and membrane pumps. By resolving protein activity in real time and label free it introduces the advantages of electrophysiology to the field of membrane transporters. During this webinar you will learn all about SSM-based electrophysiology and its applications.

First, we discuss the basics and principles behind this technology in depth. Then we focus on practical topics, like preparation of samples and experimental workflows, and finally introduce some datasets to highlight the potential and possibilities for membrane transporter studies.aria will introduce SSM-based Electrophysiology going over basic features and principles of the method and have a look at experimental workflows.

User meeting video
16.10.2020 | Webinar: Emerging Role of LRRC8 Volume-Regulated Anion Channels in the Skin
Authors: Torsten Fauth; Oliver Rauh; Giustina Rotordam
16.10.2020 | Webinar: Voltage-Gated Ion Channels Fenestrations as a Drug Access Pathway
Prof. Tamer M. Gamal El-Din (University of Washington)

This is an on-demand webinar from Nan]i[on and Friends 2020.

Voltage-gated sodium channels initiate electrical signals in nerve and cardiac muscle, where their hyperactivity causes pain and cardiac arrhythmia. Local anesthetics and antiarrhythmic drugs selectively block sodium channels in rapidly firing nerve and muscle cells to relieve these conditions. We studied an ancestral bacterial sodium channel to elucidate the structure of the drug-binding site and the pathway for drug entry to the receptor site. We found that the drug-binding site is located in the center of the transmembrane pore, through which sodium ions move and fenestrations form an access pathway for drug entry directly from the cell membrane. These results show how these widely used drugs block the sodium channel and have important implications for structure-based design of next-generation drugs. In my talk, I'll also shed light on the fenestrations of other ion channels to argue that fenestrations could be an entry pathway for many ion channels.

17.03.2020 | Webinar: A new technology to evaluate mature cardiac contractility on high throughput level
The Webinar focuses on the FLEXcyte 96 technology, an Add-on of the CardioExcyte 96 instrument. The analysis of cardiomyocyte contractility as well as data of short-termed and long-termed compound applications is discussed.
Dr. Sonja Stölzle-Feix
Dr. Matthias Gossmann

Drug development is a costly and time-consuming process, with high drug failure rates both in early and late stages of the development process. Pre-clinical cardiac safety, toxicity and efficacy testing, usually performed using animal models with low predictive value or primary human cells, are one of the main reasons for high drug attrition rates.

To improve the drug development process, a suitable technology is required to acquire high quality data from physiologically relevant models on high throughput level. Standard cultivation methods for stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes are still based on stiff glass or plastic surfaces, creating an unphysiological environment to what cells would experience naturally and hinder them to further mature in vitro. In contrast, the FLEXcyte 96 plates mimic flexible mechanical conditions of real biological tissue and thereby enhancing the development of a mature cardiomyocyte phenotype which cannot be elicited with other assays commonly used. In combination with the FLEXcyte 96 platform, it is possible to analyze mature cardiac contractility on a 96 well high throughput level, both after acute and chronic compound treatment, ranging from 5 minutes to 5 days.

Hence, the FLEXcyte 96 system enables high throughput at lower costs and delivers highly predictive functional information on drug candidates early in the drug development process.

17.09.2020 | Webinar: Electrophysiological investigation of integral membrane proteins using the Orbit mini
Dr. Conrad Weichbrodt (Senior Scientist / Product Manager Orbit family; Nanion Technologies)

A free standing lipid bilayer separating two aqueous compartments represents a fundamental prerequisite for the investigation of electrophysiological features of membrane spanning proteins like ion channels, porins or certain membrane active toxins. The convenient and reproducible preparation of these model bilayers and the often tedious workflow of conducting such an experiment on classic one channel setups, however, still remain an obstacle for easy and fast data generation.

Here we present Nanion’s Orbit mini device which is explicitly designed to meet the special requirements of experiments on artificial lipid bilayers: use of Ionera’s MECA (micro electrode cavity array) chip technology combined with state of the art low noise amplifiers (Elements S.R.L.) enable the fully parallel low-noise recording of four separate lipid bilayers at bandwidths up to 100 kHz. Today’s webinar consists of a general introduction of the system and a brief overview of it features, applications and optional add ons. We then demonstrate how to actually perform an experiment on the device showcasing translocation of Polyethylene glycol (PEG) polymers through the well established and commercially available porin alpha-Hemolysin.

17.09.2020 | Webinar: Electrophysiological investigation of integral membrane proteins using the Orbit mini
Speakers: Dr. Conrad Weichbrodt (Senior Scientist / Product Manager Orbit family; Nanion Technologies)

Abstract: A free standing lipid bilayer separating two aqueous compartments represents a fundamental prerequisite for the investigation of electrophysiological features of membrane spanning proteins like ion channels, porins or certain membrane active toxins. The convenient and reproducible preparation of these model bilayers and the often tedious workflow of conducting such an experiment on classic one channel setups, however, still remain an obstacle for easy and fast data generation. Here we present Nanion’s Orbit mini device which is explicitly designed to meet the special requirements of experiments on artificial lipid bilayers: use of Ionera’s MECA (micro electrode cavity array) chip technology combined with state of the art low noise amplifiers (Elements S.R.L.) enable the fully parallel low-noise recording of four separate lipid bilayers at bandwidths up to 100 kHz. Today’s webinar consists of a general introduction of the system and a brief overview of it features, applications and optional add ons. We then demonstrate how to actually perform an experiment on the device showcasing translocation of Polyethylene glycol (PEG) polymers through the well established and commercially available porin alpha-Hemolysin.

18.03.2021 | Webinar: Understanding Drug Efflux – Small Multidrug Resistance Family – Stoichiometry and Specificity
Randy Stockbridge
(Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology - University of Michigan)
Katherine Henzler-Wildman
(Professor Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry - University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Title: Determining transport stoichiometry using SSME

Randy Stockbridge
(Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology - University of Michigan)

Abstract: Transporters from the small multidrug resistance (SMR) family provide broad resistance to environmental biocides, driving the spread of multidrug resistance cassettes among bacterial populations. Understanding substrate specificity is essential to understand this process. Using solid-supported membrane electrophysiology, we measure the transport of different substrates by SMR family members, and show that promiscuous transport of hydrophobic substituted cations is a general feature of all SMR transporters, including those whose primary physiological role is in bacterial nitrogen metabolism.

Title: Basis of promiscuity in small multidrug resistance transporters

Katherine Henzler-Wildman
(Professor Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry - University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Abstract: Transport stoichiometry can provide great insight into the mechanism and function of ion-coupled transporters. Traditional reversal potential assays are a reliable, general method for determining the transport stoichiometry of ion-coupled transporters, but the time and material costs of this technique hinder investigations of transporter behavior under multiple experimental conditions. Our prior work on EmrE has demonstrated that it is not a tightly coupled transporter and that the net transport stoichiometry is likely to vary with pH and substrate identity. This has motivated us to develop an SSME-based assay for assessing transport stoichiometry that is rapid and easily adaptable to different substrates and pH conditions. Here we present results for Gdx and CLC-Ec1, two well-characterized transporters that demonstrate the success of our approach. Our SSME-based method reproduces the fixed 2H+:1 guanidinium+ antiport stoichiometry of Gdx, the 1H+:2Cl- antiport stoichiometry of CLC-ec1, and loose proton:nitrate coupling for CLC-ec1. This method requires only small amounts of transporter and provides a fast, easy method to characterize transport stoichiometry under varied conditions, which will facilitate future mechanistic and functional studies of ion-coupled transporters.

19.05.2020 | Webinar: Insights and New Approaches in Transporter Characterization – SURFE2R N1
Dr. Maria Barthmes (Product Manager, Nanion Technologies)
Nathan Thomas (5th Year PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison [Dr. Henzler-Wildman's lab])
Prof. Dr. Camilo Perez (Head of Research Group - BIOZENTRUM, University of Basel, Switzerland)

Maria will introduce SSM-based Electrophysiology going over basic features and principles of the method and have a look at experimental workflows.

Nathan Thomas
"Unlocking the (Reversal) Potential of SSM Electrophysiology: Transporter Stoichiometry with the SURFE2R N1”

Camillo Perez:
"Characterization of a choline uniporter by SSM-based electrophysiology" disclaimer: due to a pending manuscript submission, this presentation will be made available in full in the coming weeks. Please stay tuned.

Publication link
1993 – Charge transport by ion translocating membrane proteins on solid supported membranes
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biophysical Journal (1993) Authors: Seifert K., Fendler K., Bamberg E.

A new method for the investigation of ion translocating membrane proteins is presented. Protein containing membrane fragments or vesicles are adsorbed to a solid supported membrane. The solid supported membrane consists of a lipid monolayer on a gold evaporated or gold sputtered glass substrate which is coated with a long chained mercaptan (CH3(CH2)mSH, m = 15, 17). Specific conductance and specific capacitance of the solid supported membrane are comparable to those of a black lipid membrane. However, the solid supported membrane has the advantage of a much higher mechanical stability. The electrical activity of bacteriorhodopsin, Na,K-ATPase, H,K-ATPase, and Ca-ATPase on the solid supported membrane is measured and compared to signals obtained on a conventionally prepared black lipid membrane. It is shown that both methods yield similar results. The solid supported membrane therefore represents an alternative method for the investigation of electrical properties of ion translocating transmembrane proteins.

Publication link
1999 – Charge Translocation by the Na/K-ATPase Investigated on Solid Supported Membranes: Rapid Solution Exchange with a New Technique
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biophysical Journal (1999) Authors: Pintschovius J., Fendler K.

Adsorption of Na+/K+-ATPase containing membrane fragments from pig kidney to lipid membranes allows the detection of electrogenic events during the Na+/K+-ATPase reaction cycle with high sensitivity and time resolution. High stability preparations can be obtained using solid supported membranes (SSM) as carrier electrodes for the membrane fragments. The SSMs are prepared using an alkanethiol monolayer covalently linked to a gold surface on a glass substrate. The hydrophobic surface is covered with a lipid monolayer (SAM, self-assembled monolayer) to obtain a double layer system having electrical properties similar to those of unsupported bilayer membranes (BLM). As we have previously shown (, Biophys. J. 64:384-391), the Na+/K+-ATPase on a SSM can be activated by photolytic release of ATP from caged ATP. In this publication we show the first results of a new technique which allows rapid solution exchange at the membrane surface making use of the high mechanical stability of SSM preparations. Especially for substrates, which are not available as a caged substance-such as Na+ and K+-this technique is shown to be capable of yielding new results. The Na+/K+-ATPase was activated by rapid concentration jumps of ATP and Na+ (in the presence of ATP). A time resolution of up to 10 ms was obtained in these experiments. The aim of this paper is to present the new technique together with the first results obtained from the investigation of the Na+/K+-ATPase. A comparison with data taken from the literature shows considerable agreement with our experiments.

Publication link
1999 – Charge Translocation by the Na+/K+-ATPase Investigated on Solid Supported Membranes: Cytoplasmic Cation Binding and Release
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biophysical Journal (1999) Authors: Pintschovius J., Fendler K., Bamberg E.

In the preceding publication (Pintschovius and Fendler, 1999. Biophys. J. 76:000–000) a new technique was described that was able to produce concentration jumps of arbitrary ion species at the surface of a solid supported membrane (SSM). This technique can be used to investigate the kinetics of ion translocating proteins adsorbed to the SSM. Charge translocation of the Na+/K+-ATPase in the presence of ATP was investigated. Here we describe experiments carried out with membrane fragments containing Na+/K+-ATPase from pig kidney and in the absence of ATP. Electrical currents are measured after rapid addition of Na+. We demonstrate that these currents can be explained only by a cation binding process on the cytoplasmic side, most probably to the cytoplasmic cation binding site of the Na+/K+-ATPase. An electrogenic reaction of the protein was observed only with Na+, but not with other monovalent cations (K+, Li+, Rb+, Cs+). Using Na+ activation of the enzyme after preincubation with K+ we also investigated the K+-dependent half-cycle of the Na+/K+-ATPase. A rate constant for K+ translocation in the absence of ATP of 0.2–0.3 s−1 was determined. In addition, these experiments show that K+ deocclusion, and cytoplasmic K+ release are electroneutral.

Publication link
1999 – Kinetics of electrogenic transport by the ADP/ATP carrier
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biophysical Journal (1999) Authors: Gropp T., Brustovetsky N., Klingenberg M., Müller V., Fendler K., Bamberg E.

The electrogenic transport of ATP and ADP by the mitochondrial ADP/ATP carrier (AAC) was investigated by recording transient currents with two different techniques for performing concentration jump experiments: 1) the fast fluid injection method: AAC-containing proteoliposomes were adsorbed to a solid supported membrane (SSM), and the carrier was activated via ATP or ADP concentration jumps. 2) BLM (black lipid membrane) technique: proteoliposomes were adsorbed to a planar lipid bilayer, while the carrier was activated via the photolysis of caged ATP or caged ADP with a UV laser pulse. Two transport modes of the AAC were investigated, ATPex-0in and ADPex-0in. Liposomes not loaded with nucleotides allowed half-cycles of the ADP/ATP exchange to be studied. Under these conditions the AAC transports ADP and ATP electrogenically. Mg2+ inhibits the nucleotide transport, and the specific inhibitors carboxyatractylate (CAT) and bongkrekate (BKA) prevent the binding of the substrate. The evaluation of the transient currents yielded rate constants of 160 s−1 for ATP and ≥400 s−1 for ADP translocation. The function of the carrier is approximately symmetrical, i.e., the kinetic properties are similar in the inside-out and right-side-out orientations. The assumption from previous investigations, that the deprotonated nucleotides are exclusively transported by the AAC, is supported by further experimental evidence. In addition, caged ATP and caged ADP bind to the carrier with similar affinities as the free nucleotides. An inhibitory effect of anions (200–300 mM) was observed, which can be explained as a competitive effect at the binding site. The results are summarized in a transport model.

20.11.2018 | Webinar: The RELEVANCE of ion channel interplay – Voltage-activated channels in non-excitable cells
RELEVANCE is an EU funded innovative training network and investigates in five scientific work packages different aspects, were the characterisation of red blood cells has an societal importance, such as in transfusion medicine, anaemias, diagnostics or in sports medicine. This will unavoidably result in the investigation of ion channels. The webinar is a joined presentation by a principle investigator of RELEVANCE, Prof. Lars Kaestner (Saarland University) and an early stage researcher, Maria Giustina Rotordam (Nanion Technologies, Munich).

Piezo1, KCa3.1 (Gardos channel) and CaV2.1 are three channels present in the red blood cell membrane. We will highlight the role of these channels in Hereditary Xerocytosis as well as in the Gardos Channelopathy using electrophysiological tools. Since red blood cells are everything but under suspicion to be excitable cells, we will take these cells as an example to show that KCa3.1, CaV2.1 and Piezo1 present an intimate interplay providing evidence that voltage-activated channels can well play a substantial role in non-excitable cells.

Publication link
2001 – Evidence for intraprotein charge transfer during the transport activity of the melibiose permease from Escherichia coli
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biochemistry (2001) Authors: Ganea C., Pourcher T., Leblanc G., Fendler K.

Electrogenic activity associated with the activity of the melibiose permease (MelB) of Escherichia coli was investigated by using proteoliposomes containing purified MelB adsorbed onto a solid-supported membrane. Transient currents were selectively recorded by applying concentration jumps of Na+ ions (or Li+) and/or of different sugar substrates of MelB (melibiose, thio-methyl galactoside, raffinose) using a fast-flow solution exchange system. Characteristically, the transient current response was fast, including a single decay exponential component (τ ≈ 15 ms) on applying a Na+ (or Li+) concentration jump in the absence of sugar. On imposing a Na+ (or Li+) jump on proteoliposomes preincubated with the sugar, a sugar jump in a preparation preincubated with the cation, or a simultaneous jump of the cation and sugar substrates, the electrical transients were biphasic and comprised both the fast and an additional slow (τ ≈ 350 ms) decay components. Finally, selective inactivation of the cosubstrate translocation step by acylation of MelB cysteins with N-ethyl maleimide suppressed the slow response components and had no effect on the fast transient one. We suggest that the fast transient response reflects charge transfer within MelB during cosubstrate binding while the slow component is associated with charge transfer across the proteoliposome membrane. From the time course of the transient currents, we estimate a rate constant for Na+ binding in the absence and presence of melibiose of k > 50 s-1 and one for melibiose binding in the absence of Na+ of k ≈ 10 s-1.

Publication link
2002 – Photocurrents Generated by Bacteriorhodopsin Adsorbed on Thiol/Lipid Bilayers Supported by Mercury
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Langmuir (2002) Authors: Dolfi A., Tadini-Buoninsegni F., Moncelli M.R., Guidelli R.

The kinetics of light-driven proton transport by bacteriorhodopsin (bR) were investigated over a broad pH range upon adsorbing purple membrane (PM) fragments on a mercury-supported mixed alkanethiol/phospholipid bilayer. The light-on and light-off capacitive photocurrents were measured under short-circuit conditions in the absence of photoartifacts. Using dioleoylphosphatidylcholine as the lipid monolayer, a bell-shaped curve of the peak current versus pH, with a maximum in the proximity of 6, was obtained. The analysis of the biphasic decay kinetics of the light-on and light-off currents allows an estimate of the pKa values for the steps releasing protons to, and taking up protons from, the bathing solution. In particular, the pKa values obtained from the light-off current (pK1 = 3.5, pK2 = 5.3, pK3 = 7.5, and pK4 = 9.0) suggest a mechanism similar to that proposed by Balashov et al. for dark adaptation, albeit in the opposite direction (Balashov, S. P.; Imasheva, E. S.; Govindjee, R.; Sheves, M.; Ebrey, T. G. Biophys. J. 1996, 70, 473). The time dependence of the light-on and light-off currents in the proximity of pH 6 is interpreted on the basis of both a simple equivalent circuit and a kinetic model making use of spectroscopic data available in the literature. When using dioleoylphosphatidylserine (DOPS) as the lipid monolayer, an inversion in the sign of both light-on and light-off currents, as well as a change in their shape and magnitude, was observed by increasing the pH above 9 and then, at all pH values from 9 to 1, by subsequently decreasing the pH on the same mercury-supported mixed alkanethiol/DOPS bilayer. The normal situation was restored only by adding sodium azide. This inversion in current and the notable hysteresis observed under these conditions are critically discussed.

Publication link
2003 – Charge displacements during ATP-hydrolysis and synthesis of the Na+-transporting FoF1-ATPase of Ilyobacter tartaricus
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biophysical Journal (2003) Authors: Burzik C., Kaim G., Dimroth P., Bamberg E., Fendler K.

Transient electrical currents generated by the Na+-transporting FoF1-ATPase of Ilyobacter tartaricus were observed in the hydrolytic and synthetic mode of the enzyme. Two techniques were applied: a photochemical ATP concentration jump on a planar lipid membrane and a rapid solution exchange on a solid supported membrane. We have identified an electrogenic reaction in the reaction cycle of the FoF1-ATPase that is related to the translocation of the cation through the membrane bound Fo subcomplex of the ATPase. In addition, we have determined rate constants for the process: For ATP hydrolysis this reaction has a rate constant of 15–30 s−1 if H+ is transported and 30–60 s−1 if Na+ is transported. For ATP synthesis the rate constant is 50–70 s−1.

Publication link
2003 – Simultaneous optical and electrical recording of single gramicidin channels
Port-a-Patch Publication in Biophysical Journal (2003) Authors: Borisenko V., Lougheed L., Hesse J., Fuereder-Kitzmueller E., Fertig N., Behrends, J.C., Woolley G.A., Schuetz G.J.

We report here an approach for simultaneous fluorescence imaging and electrical recording of single ion channels in planar bilayer membranes. As a test case,  fluorescently labeled (Cy3 and Cy5) gramicidin derivatives were imaged at the single-molecule level using far-field illumination and cooled CCD camera detection.  Gramicidin monomers were observed to diffuse in the plane of the membrane with a diffusion coefficient of 3.3 x 10-8 cm2s-1. Simultaneous electrical recording detected gramicidin homodimer (Cy3/Cy3, Cy5/Cy5) and heterodimer (Cy3/Cy5) channels. Heterodimer formation was observed optically by the appearance of a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) signal (irradiation of Cy3, detection of Cy5). The number of FRET signals was significantly smaller than the number of Cy3 signals (Cy3 monomers plus Cy3homodimers) as expected. The number of FRET signals increased with increasing channel activity. In numerous cases the appearance of a FRET signal was observed to correlate with a channel opening event detected electrically. The heterodimers also diffused in the plane of the membrane with a diffusion coefficient of 3.0 x 10-8 cm2s-1. These experiments demonstrate the feasibility of simultaneous optical and electrical detection of structural changes in single ion channels as well as suggesting strategies for improving the reliability of such measurements.

Publication link
2004 – Calcium transport by sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca-ATPase can be investigated on a solid-supported membrane
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Bioelectrochemistry (2004) Authors: Bartolommei G., Buoninsegni F.T., Moncelli M.R.

Sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) native vesicles incorporating Ca-ATPase are adsorbed on a solid-supported lipid membrane (SSM). Upon adsorption, the ion pumps are chemically activated by concentration jumps of ATP and the capacitive current transients generated by SR Ca-ATPase are measured under potentiostatic conditions. The Michaelis-Menten constant, KM, for ATP is evaluated by varying the concentration of ATP in the activating solution. This preliminary result shows that ion transport by SR Ca-ATPase can be suitably investigated by a technique based on concentration jumps on an SSM.

Publication link
2004 – Charge translocation during cosubstrate binding in the Na+/proline transporter of E.coli
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Journal of Molecular Biology (2004) Authors: Zhou A., Wozniak A., Meyer-Lipp K., Nietschke M., Jung H., Fendler K.

Charge translocation associated with the activity of the Na+/proline cotransporter PutP of Escherichia coli was analyzed for the first time. Using a rapid solution exchange technique combined with a solid-supported membrane (SSM), it was demonstrated that Na+ and/or proline individually or together induce a displacement of charge. This was assigned to an electrogenic Na+ and/or proline binding process at the cytoplasmic face of the enzyme with a rate constant of k>50 s−1 which preceeds the rate-limiting step. Based on the kinetic analysis of our electrical signals, the following characteristics are proposed for substrate binding in PutP. (1) Substrate binding is electrogenic not only for Na+, but also for the uncharged cosubstrate proline. The charge displacement associated with the binding of both substrates is of comparable size and independent of the presence of the respective cosubstrate. (2) Both substrates can bind individually to the transporter. Under physiological conditions, an ordered binding mechanism prevails, while at sufficiently high concentrations, each substrate can bind in the absence of the other. (3) Both substrate binding sites interact cooperatively with each other by increasing the affinity and/or the speed of binding of the respective cosubstrate. (4) Proline binding proceeds in a two-step process: low affinity (∼1 mM) electroneutral substrate binding followed by a nearly irreversible electrogenic conformational transition.

Publication link
2004 – Ion channel drug discovery and research: The automated Nano-Patch-Clamp technology
Port-a-Patch Publication in Current Drug Discovery Technologies (2004) Authors: Brüggemann A., George M., Klau M., Beckler M., Steindl J., Behrends J.C., Fertig N.

Unlike the genomics revolution, which was largely enabled by a single technological advance (high throughput sequencing), rapid advancement in proteomics will require a broader effort to increase the throughput of a number of key tools for functional analysis of different types of proteins. In the case of ion channels - a class of (membrane) proteins of great physiological importance and potential as drug targets- the lack of adequate assay technologies is felt particularly strongly. The available, indirect, high throughput screening methodsfor ion channels clearly generate insufficient information. The best technology to study ion channel function and screen for compound interaction is the patch clamp technique, but patch clamping suffers from low throughput, which is not acceptable for drug screening. A first step towards a solution is presented here. The nano patch clamp technology, which is based on a planar, microstructured glass chip, enables automatic whole cell patch clamp measurements. The Port-a-Patch is an automated electrophysiology workstation, which uses planar patch clamp chips. This approach enables high quality and high content ion channel and compound evaluation on a one-cell-at-a-time basis. The presented automation of the patch process and its scalability to an array format are the prerequisites for any higher throughput electrophysiology instruments.

Publication link
2004 – Time-resolved charge translocation by sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca-ATPase measured on a solid supported membrane
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biophysical Journal (2004) Authors: Tadini Buoninsegni F., Bartolommei G., Moncelli M.R., Inesi G., Guidelli R.

Sarcoplasmic reticulum vesicles were adsorbed on an octadecanethiol/phosphatidylcholine mixed bilayer anchored to a gold electrode, and the Ca-ATPase contained in the vesicles was activated by ATP concentration jumps both in the absence and in the presence of K(+) ions and at different pH values. Ca2+ concentration jumps in the absence of ATP were also carried out. The resulting capacitive current transients were analyzed together with the charge under the transients. The relaxation time constants of the current transients were interpreted on the basis of an equivalent circuit. The current transient after ATP concentration jumps and the charge after Ca2+ concentration jumps in the absence of ATP exhibit almost the same dependence upon the Ca2+ concentration, with a half-saturating value of approximately 1.5 µM. The pH dependence of the charge after Ca2+ translocation demonstrates the occurrence of one H+ per one Ca2+ countertransport at pH 7 by direct charge-transfer measurements. The presence of K+ decreases the magnitude of the current transients without altering their shape; this decrease is explained by K+ binding to the cytoplasmic side of the pump in the E1 conformation and being released to the same side during the E1-E2 transition.

Publication link
2005 – Cytotoxicity of colloidal CdSe and CdSe/ZnS nanoparticles
Port-a-Patch Publication in Nano Letters (2005) Authors: Kirchner C., Liedl T., Kudera S., Pellegrino T., Munoz J. A., Gaub H.E., Stoelzle S., Fertig N., Parak W.J.

Cytotoxicity of CdSe and CdSe/ZnS nanoparticles has been investigated for different surface modifications such as coating with mercaptopropionic acid, silanization, and polymer coating. For all cases, quantitative values for the onset of cytotoxic effects in serum-free culture media are given. These values are correlated with  microscope images in which the uptake of the particles by the cells has been investigated. Our data suggest that in addition to the release of toxic Cd2+ ions from the particles also their surface chemistry, in particular their stability toward aggregation, plays an important role for cytotoxic effects. Additional patch clamp experiments investigate effects of the particles on currents through ion channels.

Publication link
2005 – Kinetics of charge translocation in the passive downhill uptake mode of the Na+/H+ antiporter NhaA of Escherichia coli
SURFE2R 500 (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics (2005) Authors: Zuber D., Krause R., Venturi M., Padan E., Bamberg E., Fendler K.

The Na+/H+ antiporter NhaA is the main Na+ extrusion system in E. coli. Using direct current measurements combined with a solid supported membrane (SSM), we obtained electrical data of the function of NhaA purified and reconstituted in liposomes. These measurements demonstrate NhaA's electrogenicity, its specificity for Li+ and Na+ and its pronounced pH dependence in the range pH 6.5-8.5. The mutant G338S, in contrast, presents a pH independent profile, as reported previously. A complete right-side-out orientation of the NhaA antiporter within the proteoliposomal membrane was determined using a NhaA-specific antibody based ELISA assay. This allowed for the first time the investigation of NhaA in the passive downhill uptake mode corresponding to the transport of Na+ from the periplasmic to the cytoplasmic side of the membrane. In this mode, the transporter has kinetic properties differing significantly from those of the previously investigated efflux mode. The apparent Km values were 11 mM for Na+ and 7.3 mM for Li+ at basic pH and 180 mM for Na+ and 50 mM for Li+ at neutral pH. The data demonstrate that in the passive downhill uptake mode pH regulation of the carrier affects both apparent Km as well as turnover (Vmax).

Publication link
2005 – The Port-a-Patch: The smallest patch clamp set up for high quality electrophysiology
Port-a-Patch Publication in HEKA Impulse (2005) Authors: Brüggemann A., George M., Klau M., Beckler M., Steindl J., Behrends J., Fertig N.

In evaluating ion channel function, patch clamping, provides the highest information content but every electrophysiologist knows the draw back of the size and complexity of a patch clamp rig. We present here patch clamp recordings in the whole cell con- figuration performed with planar patch clamp chips, which are micro- structured from borosilicate glass substrate. The chips are used in the Port-a-Patch, a simplified and miniaturized patch clamp setup that enables automated patch clamp experiments on a single cell. The PatchMaker software performs the experiment by executing user-determined protocols for cell positioning and in communication with the PULSE software also protocols for electrical stimulation and current readout. In various electro- physiological experiments, the high quality of recordings and the versatility of the perfusion of the recorded cells are demonstrated.

Publication link
2006 – Establishment of Cell-Free Electrophysiology for Ion Transporters: Application for Pharmacological Profiling
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Journal of Biomolecular Screening (2006) Authors: Geibel S., Flores-Herr N., Licher T., Vollert H.

Ion transporters are emerging targets of increasing importance to the pharmaceutical industry because of their relevance to a wide range of numerous indications of cardiovascular, metabolic, and inflammatory diseases. However, traditional iontransporter assay technologies using radioactive or fluorescent ligands and substrates or manual patch clamping suffer from several problems: limited sensitivity and robustness, significant numbers of false positives and false negatives, and cost. The authors describe a novel method for the measurement of ion transporters using cell-free electrophysiology based on the SURFE2R (surface electrogenic event reader) technology platform. The main advantages of the method described here are high sensitivity and simple handling. Material for assays is mainly a simplemembrane preparation, which can be stored over weeks and months. Thus, the application of the method does not depend on a permanently running cell-culture lab. The application of the technology itself uses a bench-top system and chips loaded with membrane fragments. The SURFE2R technology was used to establish an Na+/Ca2+-exchanger assay. The assay performance, as judged by the Z' value of 0.73 and the signal-to-background ratio of 7.6, suggests that this is a reliable and robust assay. The authors compared the technology with patch-clamp experiments: Themeasurement of activity of 17 different inhibitors and the determination of an IC 50value indicated a good correlation between SURFE2R technology and patch clamp results. Using the SURFE2R technology, results were obtainedwith 20 times higher throughput and required less-qualified personnel compared with manual patch clamping.

Publication link
2006 – High-resolution electrophysiology on a chip: Transient dynamics of alamethicin channel formation
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes (2006) Authors: Sondermann M., George M., Fertig N., Behrends J.C.

Microstructured planar substrates have been shown to be suitable for patch clamp recording from both whole cells and isolated patches of membrane, as well as for measurements from planar lipid bilayers. Here, we further explore this technology with respect to high-resolution, low noise single-channel recording. Using solvent-free lipid bilayers from giant unilamellar vesicles obtained by electro-swelling, we recorded channels formed by the peptaibol alamethicin, a well-studied model system for voltage-dependent channels, focusing on the transient dynamics of single-channel formation upon application of a voltage step. With our setup, we were able to distinctly resolve dwell times well below 100 mus and to perform a thorough statistical analysis of alamethicin gating. Our results show good agreement with models that do not rely on the existence of non-conducting preaggregate states. Microstructured apertures in glass substrates appear promising with respect to future experiments on cellular ion channels reconstituted in suspended lipid membranes.

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2006 – Microchip technology for automated and parallel patch clamp recording
Port-a-Patch and Patchliner Publication in Small Journal (2006) Authors: Brüggemann A., Stoelzle S., George M., Behrends J.C., Fertig N.

The patch-clamp technique is the state-of-the-art technology for the study of a large class of membrane proteins called ion channels. Ion channels mediate electrical current flow, have crucial roles in cellular physiology, and are important drug targets. However, patch clamping is a laborious process requiring a skilled experimenter and is, therefore, not compatible with the high throughput needed in drug development. The solution for automated and parallel patch-clamp measurements that is provided by microchip technology is presented here.

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2006 – Structure and function of prokaryotic glutamate transporters from Escherichia coli and Pyrococcus horikoshii
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biochemistry (2006) Authors: Raunser S., Appel M., Ganea C., Geldmacher-Kaufer U., Fendler K., Kühlbrandt W.

The glutamate transporters GltPEc from Escherichia coli and GltPPh from Pyrococcus horikoshii were overexpressed in E. coli and purified to homogeneity with a yield of 1-2 mg/L of culture. Single-particle analysis and electron microscopy indicate that GltP(Ph) is a trimer in detergent solution. Electron microscopy of negatively stained GltPPh two-dimensional crystals shows that the transporter is a trimer also in the membrane. Gel filtration of GltPEc indicates a reversible equilibrium of two oligomeric states in detergent solution that we identified as a trimer and hexamer by blue-native gel electrophoresis and cross-linking. The purified transporters were fully active upon reconstitution into liposomes, as demonstrated by the uptake of radioactively labeled L-aspartate or L-glutamate. L-aspartate/L-glutamate transport of GltPEc involves the cotransport of protons and depends only on pH, whereas GltP(Ph) catalyzes L-glutamate transport with a cotransport of H+ or Na+. L-glutamate induces a fast transient current in GltP(Ph) proteoliposomes coupled to a solid supported membrane (SSM). We show that the electric signal depends on the concentration of Na+ or H+ outside the proteoliposomes and that GltP(Ph) does not require K+ inside the proteoliposomes. In addition, the electrical currents are inhibited by TBOA and HIP-B. The half-saturation concentration for activation of GltPPh glutamate transport (K0.5glut) is 194 µM.

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2006 – The inner interhelix loop 4-5 of the melibiose permease from Escherichia coli takes part in conformational changes after sugar binding
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2006) Authors: Meyer-Lipp K., Séry N., Ganea C., Basquin C., Fendler K., Leblanc G.

Cytoplasmic loop 4-5 of the melibiose permease from Escherichia coli is essential for the process of Na+-sugar translocation (Abdel-Dayem, M., Basquin, C., Pourcher, T., Cordat, E., and Leblanc, G. (2003) J. Biol. Chem. 278, 1518-1524). In the present report, we analyze functional consequences of mutating each of the three acidic amino acids in this loop into cysteines. Among the mutants, only the E142C substitution impairs selectively Na+-sugar translocation. Because R141C has a similar defect, we investigated these two mutants in more detail. Liposomes containing purified mutated melibiose permease were adsorbed onto a solid supported lipid membrane, and transient electrical currents resulting from different substrate concentration jumps were recorded. The currents evoked by a melibiose concentration jump in the presence of Na+, previously assigned to an electrogenic conformational transition (Meyer-Lipp, K., Ganea, C., Pourcher, T., Leblanc, G., and Fendler, K. (2004) Biochemistry 43, 12606-12613), were much smaller for the two mutants than the corresponding signals in cysteineless MelB. Furthermore, in R141C the stimulating effect of melibiose on Na+ affinity was lost. Finally, whereas tryptophan fluorescence spectroscopy revealed impaired conformational changes upon melibiose binding in the mutants, fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurements indicated that the mutants still show cooperative modification of their sugar binding sites by Na+. These data suggest that: 1) loop 4-5 contributes to the coordinated interactions between the ion and sugar binding sites; 2) it participates in an electrogenic conformational transition after melibiose binding that is essential for the subsequent obligatory coupled translocation of substrates. A two-step mechanism for substrate translocation in the melibiose permease is suggested.

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2006 – Transporter assays using solid supported membranes: a novel screening platform for drug discovery
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in ASSAY and Drug Development Technologies (2006) Authors: Kelety B., Diekert K., Tobien J., Watzke N., Dörner W., Obrdlik P., Fendler K.

Transporters are important targets in drug discovery. However, high throughput-capable assays for this class of membrane proteins are still missing. Here we present a novel drug discovery platform technology based on solid supported membranes. The functional principles of the technology are described, and a sample selection of transporter assays is discussed: the H+-dependent peptide transporter PepT1, the gastric proton pump, and the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger. This technology promises to have an important impact on the drug discovery process.

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2007 – Automated ion channel screening: patch clamping made easy
Port-a-Patch and Patchliner Publication in Expert Opinion Therapeutic Targets (2007) Authors: Farre C., Stoelzle S., Haarman C., George M., Brueggemann A., Fertig N.

Efficient high resolution techniques are required for screening efforts and research targeting ion channels. The conventional patch clamp technique, a high resolution but low efficiency technique, has been established for 25 years. Recent advances have opened up new possibilities for automated patch clamping. This new technology meets the need of drug developers for higher throughput and facilitates new experimental approaches in ion channel research. Specifically, Nanion’s electrophysiology workstations, the Port-a-Patch and the Patchliner, have been successfully introduced as high-quality automated patch clamp platforms for industry as well as academic users. Both platforms give high quality patch clamp recordings, capable of true giga-seals and stable recordings, accessible to the user without the need for years of practical training. They also offer sophisticated experimental possibilities, such as accurate and fast ligand application, temperature control and internal solution exchange. This article describes the chip-based patch clamp technology and its usefulness in ion channel drug screening and academic research.

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2007 – Electrophysiological assessment of HERG blockade: Comparative study using automated and conventional patch clamp systems
Port-a-Patch Publication in Toxicological Letters (2007) Authors: Yook Y., Kim J., Cho H., Moon H., Kwak B.
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2007 – Functional and structural characterization of a prokaryotic peptide transporter with features similar to mammalian PEPT1
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2007) Authors: Weitz D., Harder D., Casagrande F., Fotiadis D., Obrdlik P., Kelety B., Daniel H.

The ydgR gene of Escherichia coli encodes a protein of the proton-dependent oligopeptide transporter (POT) family. We cloned YdgR and overexpressed the His-tagged fusion protein in E. coli BL21 cells. Bacterial growth inhibition in the presence of the toxic phosphonopeptide alafosfalin established YgdR functionality. Transport was abolished in the presence of the proton ionophore carbonyl cyanide p-chlorophenylhydrazone, suggesting a proton-coupled transport mechanism. YdgR transports selectively only di- and tripeptides and structurally related peptidomimetics (such as aminocephalosporins) with a substrate recognition pattern almost identical to the mammalian peptide transporter PEPT1. The YdgR protein was purified to homogeneity from E. coli membranes. Blue native-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and transmission electron microscopy of detergent-solubilized YdgR suggest that it exists in monomeric form. Transmission electron microscopy revealed a crown-like structure with a diameter of approximately 8 nm and a central density. These are the first structural data obtained from a proton-dependent peptide transporter, and the YgdR protein seems an excellent model for studies on substrate and inhibitor interactions as well as on the molecular architecture of cell membrane peptide transporters.

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2007 – Planar Patch Clamping
Port-a-Patch and Patchliner book chapter in "Patch Clamp Analysis – Advanced Techniques", Series: Neuromethods (2007) Authors: Behrends, J.C., Fertig, N.

The technique of patch clamping can be seen in retrospect as a combination of two separate lines of development that both originated in the 1960s and 1970s. The classical biophysics of the nerve impulse had by then been established in the squid giant axon using a combination of (1) voltage clamping with axial wire electrodes and (2) internal perfusion or dialysis. This combination had given experimenters control of both the electrical and the chemical gradients governing membrane ion flux. The problem of the day was to extend this type of analysis to smaller, noncylindrical, cellular structures (such as neuronal somata) that would not allow insertion of metal wires, let alone tolerate any of the procedures used for internal perfusion or dialysis of squid axons. While intracellular glass microelectrodes afforded intracellular electrical access to most cellular somata, two independent electrodes for current passing and voltage recording, respectively, were initially necessary, until time-sharing systems made single-microelectrode voltage clamping possible. Even then, however, two severe problems remained: (1) spatially nonuniform voltage control (the so-called space-clamp problem), and (2) the lack of control over intracellular ionic composition.

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2008 – Effect of Clotrimazole on the Pump Cycle of the Na,K-ATPase
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Biophysical Journal (2008) Authors: Bartolommei G., Devaux N., Tadini-Buoninsegni F., Moncelli M., Apell H.-J.

The effect of the antimycotic drug clotrimazole (CLT) on the Na,K-ATPase was investigated using fluorescence and electrical measurements. The results obtained by steady-state fluorescence experiments with the electrochromic styryl dye RH421 were combined with those achieved by a pre-steady-state method based on fast solution exchange on a solid supported membrane that adsorbs the protein. Both techniques are suitable for monitoring the electrogenic steps of the pump cycle and are in general complementary, yielding distinct kinetic information. The experiments show clearly that CLT affects specific partial reactions of the pump cycle of the Na,K-ATPase with an affinity in the low micromolar range and in a reversible manner. All results can be consistently explained by proposing the CLT-promoted formation of an ion-occluded-CLT-bound conformational E2 state E2CLT(X2), that acts as a “dead-end” side track of the pump cycle, where X stands for H+ or K+. Na+ binding, enzyme phosphorylation, and Na+ transport were not affected by CLT, and at high CLT concentrations ~1/3 of the enzyme remained active in the physiological transport mode. The presence of Na+ and K+ destabilized the inactivated form of the Na,K-ATPase.

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2008 – High-throughput electrophysiology: an emerging paradigm for ion-channel screening and physiology
Port-a-Patch Publication in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery (2008) Authors: Dunlop J., Bowlby M., Peri R., Vasilyev D., Arias R.

Ion channels represent highly attractive targets for drug discovery and are implicated in a diverse range of disorders, in particular in the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. Moreover, assessment of cardiac ion-channel activity of new chemical entities is now an integral component of drug discovery programmes to assess potential for cardiovascular side effects. Despite their attractiveness as drug discovery targets ion channels remain an under-exploited target class, which is in large part due to the labour-intensive and low-throughput nature of patch-clamp electrophysiology. This Review provides an update on the current state-of-the-art for the various automated electrophysiology platforms that are now available and critically evaluates their impact in terms of ion-channel screening, lead optimization and the assessment of cardiac ion-channel safety liability.

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2008 – Identification of the arginine/ornithine antiporter ArcD from Halobacterium salinarum
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in FEBS Letters (2008) Authors: Wimmer F., Oberwinkler T., Bisle B., Tittor J., Oesterhelt D.

This paper identifies the first arginine/ornithine antiporter ArcD from the domain of archea. The functional role of ArcD is demonstrated by transport assays with radioactive labelled arginine, by its necessity to enable arginine fermentation under anaerobic growth conditions and by the consumption of arginine from the medium during growth. All three experimentally observables are severely disturbed when the deletion strain ΔArcD is used. The isolated protein is verified by mass spectrometry and reconstituted in vesicles. The proteoliposomes are attached to a membrane and capacitive currents are recorded which appear upon initiation of the transport process by change from arginine‐free to arginine‐containing buffer. This clearly demonstrates that the purified 34 kD protein is the functional unit.

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2008 – Interactions, functions, and independence of plasma membrane STIM1 and TRPC1 in vascular smooth muscle cells
Patchliner Publication in Circulation Research (2008) Authors: Li J., Sukumar P., Milligan C.J., Kumar B., Ma Z.Y., Munsch C.M., Jiang L.H., Porter K.E., Beech D.J.

Stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) is a predicted single membrane–spanning protein involved in store-operated calcium entry and interacting with ion channels including TRPC1. Here, we focus on endogenous STIM1 of modulated vascular smooth muscle cells, which exhibited a nonselective cationic current in response to store depletion despite strong buffering of intracellular calcium at the physiological concentration. STIM1 mRNA and protein were detected and suppressed by specific short interfering RNA. Calcium entry evoked by store depletion was partially inhibited by STIM1 short interfering RNA, whereas calcium release was unaffected. STIM1 short interfering RNA suppressed cell migration but not proliferation. Antibody that specifically bound STIM1 revealed constitutive extracellular N terminus of STIM1 and extracellular application of the antibody caused fast inhibition of the current evoked by store depletion. The antibody also inhibited calcium entry and cell migration but not proliferation. STIM1 interacted with TRPC1, and TRPC1 contributed partially to calcium entry and cationic current. However, the underlying processes could not be explained only by a STIM1-TRPC1 partnership because extracellular TRPC1 antibody suppressed cationic current only in a fraction of cells, TRPC1-containing channels were important for cell proliferation as well as migration, and cell surface localization studies revealed TRPC1 alone, as well as with STIM1. The data suggest a complex situation in which there is not only plasma membrane–spanning STIM1 that is important for cell migration and TRPC1-independent store-operated cationic current but also TRPC1-STIM1 interaction, a TRPC1dependent component of store-operated current, and STIM1-independent TRPC1 linked to cell proliferation.

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2008 – Ion channel screening – automated patch clamp on the rise
Port-a-Patch and Patchliner Publication in Drug Discovery Today (2008)   Authors: Farre C., George M., Brüggemann A., Fertig N.

Ion channel proteins are of major importance for the human physiology and thus highly attractive molecular drug targets. Large-scale ion channel screening of wanted and unwanted drug effects is required, but has been limited by the lack of adequate screening technology, because available methods put a tradeoff between high-throughput and high-information content. The advent of automated patch clamp platforms has revolutionized ion channel screening, enabling investigations from a more functional perspective at a much higher throughput. The current status of automated patch clamp platforms, their strengths and drawbacks as well as future developments are reviewed.

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2008 – Planar microelectrode-CaVity array for high-resolution and parallel electrical recording of membrane ionic currents
Orbit 16 Publication in Lab on a Chip (2008) Authors: Baaken G., Sondermann M., Schlemmer C., Rühe J., Behrends J.C.

Increasing the throughput and resolution of electrical recording of currents through ion conducting channels and pores is an important technical challenge both for the functional analysis of ion channel proteins and for the application of nanoscale pores in single molecule analytical tasks. We present a novel design based on sub-picoliter-CaVities arrayed in a polymer substrate and endowed with individual planar microelectrodes that allows low-noise and parallel electrical recording from ion channels and pores. Resolution of voltage-dependent current transitions of alamethicin channels as well as polyethylene-glycol-induced blocking events of alpha-hemolysin nanopores on the submillisecond time scale is demonstrated using this device.

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2008 – Planar patch clamp: Advances in electrophysiology
Port-a-Patch book chapter in "Potassium Channels" (2008) Authors: Brüggemann A., Farre C., Haarmann C., Haythornthwaite A., Kreir M., Stoelzle S., George M., Fertig N.

Ion channels have gained increased interest as therapeutic targets over recent years, since a growing number of human and animal diseases have been attributed to defects in ion channel function. Potassium channels are the largest and most diverse family of ion channels. Pharmaceutical agents such as Glibenclamide, an inhibitor of KATP channel activity which promotes insulin release, have been successfully sold on the market for many years. So far, only a small group of the known ion channels have been addressed as potential drug targets. The functional testing of drugs on these ion channels has always been the bottleneck in the development of these types of pharmaceutical compounds. New generations of automated patch clamp screening platforms allow a higher throughput for drug testing and widen this bottleneck. Due to their planar chip design not only is a higher throughput achieved, but new applications have also become possible. One of the advantages of planar patch clamp is the possibility of perfusing the intracellular side of the membrane during a patch clamp experiment in the whole-cell configuration. Furthermore, the extracellular membrane remains accessible for compound application during the experiment. Internal perfusion can be used not only for patch clamp experiments with cell membranes, but also for those with artificial lipid bilayers. In this chapter we describe how internal perfusion can be applied to potassium channels expressed in Jurkat cells, and to Gramicidin channels reconstituted in a lipid bilayer.

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2008 – Planar patch-clamp force microscopy on living cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Ultramicroscopy (2008) Authors: Pamir E., George M., Fertig N., Benoit M.

Here we report a new combination of the patch-clamp technique with the atomic force microscope (AFM). A planar patch-clamp chip microstructured from borosilicate glass was used as a support for mechanical probing of living cells. The setup not only allows for immobilizing even a non-adherent cell for measurements of its mechanical properties, but also for simultaneously measuring the electrophysiological properties of a single cell. As a proof of principle experiment we measured the voltage-induced membrane movement of HEK293 and Jurkat cells in the whole-cell voltage clamp configuration. The results of these measurements are in good agreement with previous studies. By using the planar patch-clamp chip for immobilization, the AFM not only can image non-adhering cells, but also gets easily access to an electrophysiologically controlled cellular probe at low vibrational noise.

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2008 – Production of a specific extracellular inhibitor of TRPM3 channels
Patchliner Publication in British Journal of Pharmacology (2008) Authors: Naylor J., Milligan C.J., Zeng F., Jones C., Beech D.J.

Background and purpose: Isoform-specific ion channel blockers are useful for target validation in drug discovery and can provide the basis for new therapeutic agents and aid in determination of physiological functions of ion channels. The aim of this study was to generate a specific blocker of human TRPM3 channels as a tool to help investigations of this member of the TRP cationic channel family. Experimental approach: A polyclonal antibody (TM3E3) was made to a conserved peptide of the third extracellular (E3) loop of TRPM3 and tested for binding and functional effect. Studies of channel activity were made by whole-cell planar patch-clamp and fura-2 intracellular Ca2+ measurement. Key results: Ionic current mediated by TRPM3 was inhibited partially by TM3E3 over a period of 5–10 min. Ca2+ entry in TRPM3-expressing cells was also partially inhibited by TM3E3 in a peptide-specific manner and independently of the type of agonist used to activate TRPM3. TM3E3 had no effect on TRPC5, TRPV4, TRPM2 or an endogenous ATP response. Conclusions and implications: The data show the successful development of a specific TRPM3 inhibitor and give further confidence in E3 targeting as an approach to producing isoform-specific ion channel blockers.

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2008 – Rapid activation of the melibiose permease MelB immobilized on a solid-supported membrane
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Langmuir (2008) Authors: Garcia-Celma J.J., Dueck B., Stein M., Schlueter M., Meyer-Lipp K., Leblanc G., Fendler K.

Rapid solution exchange on a solid-supported membrane (SSM) is investigated using fluidic structures and a solid-supported membrane of 1 mm diameter in wall jet geometry. The flow is analyzed with a new technique based on specific ion interactions with the surface combined with an electrical measurement. The critical parameters affecting the time course of the solution exchange and the transfer function describing the time resolution of the SSM system are determined. The experimental data indicate that solution transport represents an intermediate situation between the plug flow and the Hagen−Poiseuille laminar flow regime. However, to a good approximation the rise of the surface concentration can be described by Hagen−Poiseuille flow with ideal mixing at the surface of the SSM. Using an improved cuvette design, solution exchange as fast as 2 ms was achieved at the surface of a solid-supported membrane. As an application of the technique, the rate constant of a fast electrogenic reaction in the melibiose permease MelB, a bacterial (Escherichia coli) sugar transporter, is determined. For comparison, the kinetics of a conformational transition of the same transporter was measured using stopped-flow tryptophan fluorescence spectroscopy. The relaxation time constant obtained for the charge displacement agrees with that determined in the stopped-flow experiments. This demonstrates that upon sugar binding MelB undergoes an electrogenic conformational transition with a rate constant of k ≈ 250 s−1.

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2008 – Rapid screening of membrane protein activity: electrophysiological analysis of OmpF reconstituted in proteoliposomes
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Lab-on-a-chip (2008) Authors: Kreir M., Farre C., Beckler M., George M., Fertig N.

Solvent-free planar lipid bilayers were formed in an automatic manner by bursting of giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) after gentle suction application through micron-sized apertures in a borosilicate glass substrate. Incubation of GUVs with the purified ion channel protein of interest yielded proteoliposomes. These proteoliposomes allow for immediate recording of channel activity after GUV sealing. This approach reduces the time-consuming, laborious and sometimes difficult protein reconstitution processes normally performed after bilayer formation. Bilayer recordings are attractive for investigations of membrane proteins not accessible to patch clamp analysis, like e.g. proteins from organelles. In the presented work, we show the example of the outer membrane protein OmpF from Escherichiacoli. We reconstituted OmpF in proteoliposomes and observed the characteristic trimeric conductance levels and the typical gating induced by pH and transmembrane voltage. Moreover, OmpF is the main entrance for beta-lactam antibiotics and we investigated translocation processes of antibiotics and modulation of OmpF by spermine. We suggest that the rapid formation of porin containing lipid bilayers is of potential for the efficient electrophysiological characterization of the OmpF protein, for studying membrane permeation processes and for the rapid screening of antibiotics.

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2008 – Synthesis and biological evaluation of chalcones as inhibitors of the voltage-gated potassium channel KV1.3
Port-a-Patch Publication in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters (2008) Authors: Cianci J., Baell J.B., Flynn B.L., Gable R.W., Mould J.A., Paul D., Harvey A.J.

Chalcone derivatives of the natural product khellinone were synthesised and screened for bioactivity against the voltage-gated potassium channel KV1.3. X-ray crystallography was employed to investigate relationships between the structure and function of a selection of the reported chalcones.

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2008 – TRPA1 is a major oxidant sensor in murine airway sensory neurons
Port-a-Patch Publication in The Journal of Clinical Investigation (2008) Authors: Bessac B.F., Sivula M., von Hehn C.A., Escalera J., Cohn L., Jordt S.E.

Sensory neurons in the airways are finely tuned to respond to reactive chemicals threatening airway function and integrity. Nasal trigeminal nerve endings are particularly sensitive to oxidants formed in polluted air and during oxidative stress as well as to chlorine, which is frequently released in industrial and domestic accidents. Oxidant activation of airway neurons induces respiratory depression, nasal obstruction, sneezing, cough, and pain. While normally protective, chemosensory airway reflexes can provoke severe complications in patients affected by inflammatory airway conditions like rhinitis and asthma. Here, we showed that both hypochlorite, the oxidizing mediator of chlorine, and hydrogen peroxide, a reactive oxygen species, activated Ca2+ influx and membrane currents in an oxidant-sensitive subpopulation of chemosensory neurons. These responses were absent in neurons from mice lacking TRPA1, an ion channel of the transient receptor potential (TRP) gene family. TRPA1 channels were strongly activated by hypochlorite and hydrogen peroxide in primary sensory neurons and heterologous cells. In tests of respiratory function, Trpa1–/– mice displayed profound deficiencies in hypochlorite- and hydrogen peroxide–induced respiratory depression as well as decreased oxidant-induced pain behavior. Our results indicate that TRPA1 is an oxidant sensor in sensory neurons, initiating neuronal excitation and subsequent physiological responses in vitro and in vivo.

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2008 – TRPC channel activation by extracellular thioredoxin
Patchliner Publication in Nature (2008) Authors: Xu S.Z., Sukumar P., Zeng F., Li J., Jairaman A., English A., Naylor J., Ciurtin C., Majeed Y., Milligan C.J., Bahnasi Y.M., Al-Shawaf E., Porter K.E., Jiang L.H., Emery P., Sivaprasadarao A., Beech D.J.

Mammalian homologues of Drosophila melanogaster transient receptor potential (TRP) are a large family of multimeric cation channels that act, or putatively act, as sensors of one or more chemical factor. Major research objectives are the identification of endogenous activators and the determination of cellular and tissue functions of these channels. Here we show the activation of TRPC5 (canonical TRP 5) homomultimeric and TRPC5–TRPC1 heteromultimeric channels by extracellular reduced thioredoxin, which acts by breaking a disulphide bridge in the predicted extracellular loop adjacent to the ion-selectivity filter of TRPC5. Thioredoxin is an endogenous redox protein with established intracellular functions, but it is also secreted and its extracellular targets are largely unknown. Particularly high extracellular concentrations of thioredoxin are apparent in rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory joint disease that disables millions of people worldwide. We show that TRPC5 and TRPC1 are expressed in secretory fibroblast-like synoviocytes from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, that endogenous TRPC5–TRPC1 channels of the cells are activated by reduced thioredoxin, and that blockade of the channels enhances secretory activity and prevents the suppression of secretion by thioredoxin. The data indicate the presence of a previously unrecognized ion-channel activation mechanism that couples extracellularthioredoxin to cell function.

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2009 – Amyloid-beta-Induced Ion Flux in Artificial Lipid Bilayers and Neuronal Cells: Resolving a Controversy
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Neurotoxicity Research (2009) Authors: Capone R., Quiroz F.G., Prangkio P., Saluja I., Sauer A.M., Bautista M.R., Turner R.S., Yang J., Mayer M.

Understanding the pathogenicity of amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptides constitutes a major goal in research on Alzheimer’s disease (AD). One hypothesis entails that Aβ peptides induce uncontrolled, neurotoxic ion flux through cellular membranes. The exact biophysical mechanism of this ion flux is, however, a subject of an ongoing controversy which has attenuated progress toward understanding the importance of Aβ-induced ion flux in AD. The work presented here addresses two prevalent controversies regarding the nature of transmembrane ion flux induced by Αβ peptides. First, the results clarify that Αβ can induce stepwise ion flux across planar lipid bilayers as opposed to a gradual increase in transmembrane current; they show that the previously reported gradual thinning of membranes with concomitant increase in transmembrane current arises from residues of the solvent hexafluoroisopropanol, which is commonly used for the preparation of amyloid samples. Second, the results provide additional evidence suggesting that Aβ peptides can induce ion channel-like ion flux in cellular membranes that is independent from the postulated ability of Αβ to modulate intrinsic cellular ion channels or transporter proteins.

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2009 – An automatic electrophysiological assay for the neuronal glutamate transporter mEAAC1
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Journal of Neuroscience Methods (2009) Authors: Krause R., Watzke N., Kelety B., Dörner W., Fendler K.

A rapid and robust electrophysiological assay based on solid supported membranes (SSM) for the murine neuronal glutamate transporter mEAAC1 is presented. Measurements at different concentrations revealed the EAAC1 specific affinities for l-glutamate (Km = 24 μM), l-aspartate (Km = 5 μM) and Na+ (Km = 33 mM) and an inhibition constant Ki for dl-threo-β-benzyloxyaspartic acid (TBOA) of 1 μM. Inhibition by 3-hydroxy-4,5,6,6a-tetrahydro-3aH-pyrrolo[3,4-d]isoxazole-6-carboxylic acid (HIP-B) was not purely competitive with an IC50 of 13 μM. Experiments using SCN− concentration jumps yielded large transient currents in the presence of l-glutamate showing the characteristics of the glutamate-gated anion conductance of EAAC1. Thus, SSM-based electrophysiology allows the analysis of all relevant transport modes of the glutamate transporter on the same sample.K+ and Na+ gradients could be applied to the transporter. Experiments in the presence and absence of Na+ and K+ gradients demonstrated that the protein is still able to produce a charge translocation when no internal K+ is present. In this case, the signal amplitude is smaller and a lower apparent affinity for l-glutamate of 144 μM is found.Finally the assay was adapted to a commercial fully automatic system for SSM-based electrophysiology and was validated by determining the substrate affinities and inhibition constants as for the laboratory setup. The combination of automatic function and its ability to monitor all transport modes of EAAC1 make this system an universal tool for industrial drug discovery.

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2009 – DtpB (YhiP) and DtpA (TppB, YdgR) are prototypical proton-dependent peptide transporters of Escherichia coli
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in The FEBS Journal (2009) Authors: Harder D., Stolz J., Casagrande F., Obrdlik P., Weitz D., Fotiadis D., Daniel H.

The genome of Escherichia coli contains four genes assigned to the peptide transporter (PTR) family. Of these, only tppB (ydgR) has been characterized, and named tripeptide permease, whereas protein functions encoded by the yhiP, ybgH and yjdL genes have remained unknown. Here we describe the overexpression of yhiP as a His-tagged fusion protein in E. coli and show saturable transport of glycyl-sarcosine (Gly-Sar) with an apparent affinity constant of 6.5 mm. Overexpression of the gene also increased the susceptibility of cells to the toxic dipeptide alafosfalin. Transport was strongly decreased in the presence of a protonophore but unaffected by sodium depletion, suggesting H+-dependence. This was confirmed by purification of YhiP and TppB by nickel affinity chromatography and reconstitution into liposomes. Both transporters showed Gly-Sar influx in the presence of an artificial proton gradient and generated transport currents on a chip-based sensor. Competition experiments established that YhiP transported dipeptides and tripeptides. Western blot analysis revealed an apparent mass of YhiP of 40 kDa. Taken together, these findings show that yhiP encodes a protein that mediates proton-dependent electrogenic transport of dipeptides and tripeptides with similarities to mammalian PEPT1. On the basis of our results, we propose to rename YhiP as DtpB (dipeptide and tripeptide permease B), by analogy with the nomenclature in other bacteria. We also propose to rename TppB as DtpA, to better describe its function as the first protein of the PTR family characterized in E. coli.

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2009 – Electrogenic ion pumps investigated on a solid supported membrane: comparison of current and voltage measurements
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Langmuir (2009) Authors: Bartolommei G., Moncelli M.R., Rispoli G., Kelety B., Tadini-Buoninsegni F.

Current and voltage measurements were performed on Na,K-ATPase and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca-ATPase. Measurements of current transients under short-circuit conditions and of voltage transients under open-circuit conditions were carried out by employing a solid supported membrane (SSM). Purified membrane fragments containing Na,K-ATPase or native SR vesicles were adsorbed on a SSM and were activated by performing substrate concentration jumps. Current and voltage transients were recorded in the external circuit. They are related to pump activity and can be attributed to electrogenic events in the reaction cycles of the two enzymes. While current transients of very small amplitude are difficult to detect, the corresponding voltage transients can be measured with higher accuracy because of a much more favorable signal-to-noise ratio. Therefore, voltage measurements are preferable for the investigation of slow processes generating low current signals, e.g., for the analysis of low turnover transporters.

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2009 – Electrophysiological characterization of LacY
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in PNAS (2009) Authors: Garcia-Celma J.J., Smirnova I.N., Kaback H.R., Fendler K.

Electrogenic events due to the activity of wild-type lactose permease from Escherichia coli (LacY) were investigated with proteoliposomes containing purified LacY adsorbed on a solid-supported membrane electrode. Downhill sugar/H+ symport into the proteoliposomes generates transient currents. Studies at different lipid-to-protein ratios and at different pH values, as well as inactivation by N-ethylmaleimide, show that the currents are due specifically to the activity of LacY. From analysis of the currents under different conditions and comparison with biochemical data, it is suggested that the predominant electrogenic event in downhill sugar/H+ symport is H+ release. In contrast, LacY mutants Glu-325→Ala and Cys-154→Gly, which bind ligand normally, but are severely defective with respect to lactose/H+ symport, exhibit only a small electrogenic event on addition of LacY-specific substrates, representing 6% of the total charge displacement of the wild-type. This activity is due either to substrate binding per se or to a conformational transition after substrate binding, and is not due to sugar/H+ symport. We propose that turnover of LacY involves at least 2 electrogenic reactions: (i) a minor electrogenic step that occurs on sugar binding and is due to a conformational transition in LacY; and (ii) a major electrogenic step probably due to cytoplasmic release of H+ during downhill sugar/H+ symport, which is the limiting step for this mode of transport.

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2009 – High throughput techniques for discovering new glycine receptor modulators and their binding sites
Patchliner Publication in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience (2009) Authors: Gilbert D.F.,Islam R., Lynagh T., Lynch J.W., Webb T.I. Front.

The inhibitory glycine receptor (GlyR) is a member of the Cys-loop receptor family that mediates inhibitory neurotransmission in the central nervous system. These receptors are emerging as potential drug targets for inflammatory pain, immunomodulation, spasticity and epilepsy. Antagonists that specifically inhibit particular GlyR isoforms are also required as pharmacological probes for elucidating the roles of particular GlyR isoforms in health and disease. Although a substantial number of both positive and negative GlyR modulators have been identified, very few of these are specific for the GlyR over other receptor types. Thus, the potential of known compounds as either therapeutic leads or pharmacological probes is limited. It is therefore surprising that there have been few published studies describing attempts to discover novel GlyR isoform-specific modulators. The first aim of this review is to consider various methods for efficiently screening compounds against these receptors. We conclude that an anion sensitive yellow fluorescent protein is optimal for primary screening and that automated electrophysiology of cells stably expressing GlyRs is useful for confirming hits and quantitating the actions of identified compounds. The second aim of this review is to demonstrate how these techniques are used in our laboratory for the purpose of both discovering novel GlyR-active compounds and characterizing their binding sites. We also describe a reliable, cost effective method for transfecting HEK293 cells in single wells of a 384-well plate using nanogram quantities of plasmid DNA.

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2009 – High-throughput screening reveals a small-molecule inhibitor of the renal outer medullary potassium channel and Kir7.1
Patchliner Publication in Molecular Pharmacology (2009) Authors: Lewis L.M., Bhave G., Chauder B.A., Banerjee S., Lornsen K.A., Redha R., Fallen K., Lindsley C.W., Weaver C.D., Denton J.S.

The renal outer medullary potassium channel (ROMK) is expressed in the kidney tubule and critically regulates sodium and potassium balance. The physiological functions of other inward rectifying K+ (Kir) channels expressed in the nephron, such as Kir7.1, are less well understood in part due to the lack of selective pharmacological probes targeting inward rectifiers. In an effort to identify Kir channel probes, we performed a fluorescence-based, high-throughput screen (HTS) of 126,009 small molecules for modulators of ROMK function. Several antagonists were identified in the screen. One compound, termed VU590, inhibits ROMK with submicromolar affinity, but has no effect on Kir2.1 or Kir4.1. Low micromolar concentrations inhibit Kir7.1, making VU590 the first small-molecule inhibitor of Kir7.1. Structure-activity relationships of VU590 were defined using small-scale parallel synthesis. Electrophysiological analysis indicates that VU590 is an intracellular pore blocker. VU590 and other compounds identified by HTS will be instrumental in defining Kir channel structure, physiology, and therapeutic potential.

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2009 – Inhibitory effect of Pb2+ on the transport cycle of the Na+/K+-ATPase
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Chemical Research in Toxicology (2009) Authors: Gramigni E., Tadini-Buoninsegni F., Bartolommei G., Santini G., Chelazzi G., Moncelli M.R.

The effect of Pb2+ on the transport cycle of the Na+/K+-ATPase was characterized in detail at a molecular level by combining electrical and biochemical measurements. Electrical measurements were performed by adsorbing purified membrane fragments containing Na+/K+-ATPase on a solid-supported membrane. Upon adsorption, the Na+/K+-ATPase was activated by carrying out concentration jumps of different activating substrates, for example, Na+ and ATP. Charge movements following Na+/K+-ATPase activation were measured in the presence of various Pb2+ concentrations to investigate the effect of Pb2+ on different ion translocating steps of the pump cycle. These charge measurements were then compared to biochemical measurements of ATPase activity in the presence of increasing Pb2+ concentration. Our results indicate that Pb2+ inhibits cycling of the enzyme, but it does not affect cytoplasmic Na+ binding and release of Na+ ions at the extracellular side at concentrations below 10 μM. To explain the inhibitory effect of Pb2+ on the Na+/K+-ATPase, we propose that Pb2+ may interfere with the hydrolytic cleavage of the phosphorylated intermediate E2P, which occurs in the K+-related branch of the pump cycle.

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2009 – Measuring Ion Channels on Solid Supported Membranes
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Biophysical Journal (2009) Authors: Schulz P., Dueck B., Mourot A., Hatahet L., Fendler K.

Application of solid supported membranes (SSMs) for the functional investigation of ion channels is presented. SSM-based electrophysiology, which has been introduced previously for the investigation of active transport systems, is expanded for the analysis of ion channels. Membranes or liposomes containing ion channels are adsorbed to an SSM and a concentration gradient of a permeant ion is applied. Transient currents representing ion channel transport activity are recorded via capacitive coupling. We demonstrate the application of the technique to liposomes reconstituted with the peptide cation channel gramicidin, vesicles from native tissue containing the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, and membranes from a recombinant cell line expressing the ionotropic P2X2 receptor. It is shown that stable ion gradients, both inside as well as outside directed, can be applied and currents are recorded with an excellent signal/noise ratio. For the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and the P2X2 receptor excellent assay quality factors of Z′ = 0.55 and Z′ = 0.67, respectively, are obtained. This technique opens up new possibilities in cases where conventional electrophysiology fails like the functional characterization of ion channels from intracellular compartments. It also allows for robust fully automatic assays for drug screening.

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2009 – Port-a-Patch and Patchliner: High fidelity electrophysiology for secondary screening and safety pharmacology
Port-a-Patch and Patchliner Publication in Combinatorial Chemistry & High Throughput Screening (2009) Authors: Farre C., Haythornthwaite A., Haarmann C., Stoelzle S., Kreir M., George M., Brüggemann A., Fertig N.

Ion channel dysfunction is known to underlie several acute and chronic disorders and, therefore, ion channels have gained increased interest as drug targets. During the past decade, ion channel screening platforms have surfaced that enable high throughput drug screening from a more functional perspective. These two factors taken together have further inspired the development of more refined screening platforms, such as the automated patch clamp platforms described in this article. Approximately four years ago, Nanion introduced its entry level device for automated patch clamping - the Port-a-Patch. With this device, Nanion offers the world’s smallest patch-clamp workstation, whilst greatly simplifying the experimental procedures. This makes the patch clamp technique accessible to researchers and technicians regardless of previous experience in electrophysiology. The same flexibility and high data quality is achieved in a fully automated manner with the Patchliner, Nanion’s higher throughput patch clamp workstation. The system utilizes a robotic liquid handling environment for fully automated application of solutions, cells and compounds. The NPC-16 chips come in a sophisticated, yet simplistic, microfluidic cartridge, which allow for fast and precise perfusion. In this way, full concentration response curves are easily obtained. The Port-a-Patch and Patchliner workstations from Nanion are valuable tools for target validation, secondary screening and safety pharmacology (for example hERG and NaV1.5 safety screening). They are widely used in drug development efforts by biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies, as well as in basic and applied biophysical research within academia.

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2009 – Robotic multiwell planar patch-clamp for native and primary mammalian cells
Patchliner Publication in Nature Protocols (2009) Authors: Milligan C.J., Li J., Sukumar P., Majeed Y., Dallas M.L., English A., Emery P., Porter K.E., Smith A.M., McFadzean I., Beccano-Kelly D., Bahnasi Y., Cheong A., Naylor J., Zeng F., Liu X., Gamper N., Jiang L., Pearson H.A., Peers C., Robertson B., Beech D.J.

Robotic multiwell planar patch-clamp has become common in drug development and safety programs because it enables efficient and systematic testing of compounds against ion channels during voltage-clamp. It has not, however, been adopted significantly in other important areas of ion channel research, where conventional patch-clamp remains the favored method. Here, we show the wider potential of the multiwell approach with the ability for efficient intracellular solution exchange, describing protocols and success rates for recording from a range of native and primary mammalian cells derived from blood vessels, arthritic joints and the immune and central nervous systems. The protocol involves preparing a suspension of single cells to be dispensed robotically into 4–8 microfluidic chambers each containing a glass chip with a small aperture. Under automated control, giga-seals and whole-cell access are achieved followed by preprogrammed routines of voltage paradigms and fast extracellular or intracellular solution exchange. Recording from 48 chambers usually takes 1–6 h depending on the experimental design and yields 16–33 cell recordings.

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2009 – T-type channel blocking properties and antiabsence activity of two imidazo[1,2-b]pyridazine derivatives structurally related to indomethacin
Port-a-Patch Publication in Neuropharmacology (2009) Authors: Rimoli M.G., Russo E., Cataldi M., Citraro R., Ambrosino P., Melisi D., Curcio A., De Lucia S., Patrignani P., De Sarro G., Abignente E.

It is presently unclear whether the antiseizure effects exerted by NSAIDs are totally dependent on COX inhibition or not. To clarify this point we investigated whether 7-methyl-2-phenylimidazo[1,2-b]pyridazine-3-carboxylic acid (DM1) and 6-methoxy-2-phenylimidazo[1,2-b]pyridazine-3-carboxylic acid (DM2), two imidazo[1,2-b]pyridazines structurally related to indomethacin (IDM) but ineffective in blocking COXs, retain IDM antiabsence activity. When administered by intraperitoneal injection in WAG/Rij rats, a rat strain which spontaneously develops SWDs, both DM1 and DM2 dose-dependently suppressed the occurrence of these seizures. Importantly, these compounds were both more potent in suppressing SWD occurrence than IDM. As T-type channel blockade is considered a mechanism of action common to many antiabsence drugs we explored by whole cell patch clamp electrophysiology in stably transfected HEK-293 the effect of DM1 and DM2 on CaV3.1 channels, the T-type channel subtype preferentially expressed in ventrobasal thalamic nuclei. Both these compounds dose-dependently suppressed the currents elicited by membrane depolarization in these cells. A similar T-type blocking effect was also observed when the cells were exposed to IDM. In conclusion, DM1 and DM2 whilst inactive on COXs, are potent antiabsence drugs. This suggests that compounds with structural features typical of NSAIDs may exert antiepileptic activity independently from COX inhibition and possibly by a direct interaction with T-type voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels.

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2009 – The M34A mutant of Connexin26 reveals active conductance states in pore-suspending membranes
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Journal of Structural Biology (2009) Authors: Gaßmann O., Kreir M., Ambrosi C., Pranskevich J., Oshima A, Röling C., Sosinsky G., Fertig N., Steinem C.

Connexin26 (Cx26) is a member of the connexin family, the building blocks for gap junction intercellular channels. These dodecameric assemblies are involved in gap junction-mediated cell–cell communication allowing the passage of ions and small molecules between two neighboring cells. Mutations in Cx26 lead to the disruption of gap junction-mediated intercellular communication with consequences such as hearing loss and skin disorders. We show here that a mutant of Cx26, M34A, forms an active hemichannel in lipid bilayer experiments. A comparison with the Cx26 wild-type is presented. Two different techniques using micro/nano-structured substrates for the formation of pore-suspending lipid membranes are used. We reconstituted the Cx26 wild-type and Cx26M34A into artificial lipid bilayers and observed single channel activity for each technique, with conductance levels of around 35, 70 and 165 pS for the wild-type. The conductance levels of Cx26M34A were found at around 45 and 70 pS.

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2009 – Transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 antagonists block the noxious effects of toxic industrial isocyanates and tear gases
Port-a-Patch Publication in FASEB (2009) Authors: Bessac B.F., Sivula M., von Hehn C.A., Caceres A.I., Escalera, J, Jordt S.

The release of methyl isocyanate in Bhopal, India, caused the worst industrial accident in history. Exposures to industrial isocyanates induce lacrimation, pain, airway irritation, and edema. Similar responses are elicited by chemicals used as tear gases. Despite frequent exposures, the biological targets of isocyanates and tear gases in vivo have not been identified, precluding the development of effective countermeasures. We use Ca2+ imaging and electrophysiology to show that the noxious effects of isocyanates and those of all major tear gas agents are caused by activation of Ca2+ influx and membrane currents in mustard oil-sensitive sensory neurons. These responses are mediated by transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1), an ion channel serving as a detector for reactive chemicals. In mice, genetic ablation or pharmacological inhibition of TRPA1 dramatically reduces isocyanate- and tear gas-induced nocifensive behavior after both ocular and cutaneous exposures. We conclude that isocyanates and tear gas agents target the same neuronal receptor, TRPA1. Treatment with TRPA1 antagonists may prevent and alleviate chemical irritation of the eyes, skin, and airways and reduce the adverse health effects of exposures to a wide range of toxic noxious chemicals.

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2010 – ATP dependent charge movement in ATP7B Cu+-ATPase is demonstrated by pre-steady state electrical measurements
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in FEBS Letters (2010) Authors: Tadini-Buoninsegni F., Bartolommei G., Moncelli M.R., Pilankatta R., Lewis D., Inesi G.

ATP7B is a copper dependent P-type ATPase, required for copper homeostasis. Taking advantage of high yield heterologous expression of recombinant protein, we investigated charge transfer in ATP7B. We detected charge displacement within a single catalytic cycle upon ATP addition and formation of phosphoenzyme intermediate. We attribute this charge displacement to movement of bound copper within ATP7B. Based on specific mutations, we demonstrate that enzyme activation by copper requires occupancy of a site in the N-terminus extension which is not present in other transport ATPases, as well as of a transmembrane site corresponding to the cation binding site of other ATPases.

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2010 – Characterization of two pore channel 2 (TPCN2) -mediated Ca2+ currents in isolated lysosomes
Port-a-Patch Publication in The Journal of Biological Chemistry (2010) Authors: Schieder M., Rötzer K., Brüggemann A., Biel M., Wahl-Schott C.A.

Two-pore channels (TPCNs) have been proposed to form lysosomal Ca2+ release channels that are activated by nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate. Here, we employ a glass chip-based method to record for the first time nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate -dependent currents through a two-pore channel (TPCN2) from intact lysosomes. We show that TPCN2 is a highly selective Ca2+ channel that is regulated by intralysosomal pH. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we identify an amino acid residue in the putative pore region that is crucial for conferring high Ca2+ selectivity. Our glass chip-based method will provide electrophysiological access not only to lysosomal TPCN channels but also to a broad range of other intracellular ion channels.

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2010 – Cor.At Cardiomyocytes: Primary-like Cardiomyocytes for Manual and Automated Electrophysiological Screening
Port-a-Patch and Patchliner Publication in Lonza Resource Notes (2010) Authors: Kettenhofen R., Stölzle S.

Cor.At® Cardiomyocytes are derived from mouse embryonic stem cells (mESC). During differentiation of the mESC, about 5% of all cells develop into cardiomyocytes. Using transgenic mESC with the puromycin resistance cassette under the control of the cardiac α-myosin heavy chain-(MHC) promoter, 99.9% pure Cor.At® Cardiomyocytes can be selected from the large amount of noncardiac myocyte cell population by the application of puromycin. For long-term storage, Cor.At® Cells are deep frozen as single cell suspensions in liquid nitrogen or -150°C deep freezers. Quality control strategies are implemented to guarantee lot-to-lot reproducibility and uniformity of functional properties of Cor.At® Cardiomyocytes for a storage period of at least 12 months. Thawed Cor.At®  Cardiomyocytes readily form spontaneously and synchronously contracting monolayers overnight. Seeded in low density on cover slips, Cor.At® Cardiomyocytes can be applied to manual patch clamp for the recording of action potentials as well as all three typical cardiac ion currents INa, ICa,L and IK (data not shown). Additionally, single cell suspensions of pre-cultured  Cor.At® Cardiomyocytes can be readily analyzed with very high success rates in automated patch clamp systems like the Port-a-Patch® and Patchliner® from Nanion Technologies GmbH, Munich, Germany, as well as in other automated patch clamp systems (data not shown). The uniqueness of both Nanion systems is their capability to record action potentials in the current clamp mode and the possibility to perform the recordings at physiological temperature in addition to the standard measurements of ion currents in the voltage clamp mode.

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2010 – Delineating electrogenic reactions during lactose/H+ symport
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biochemistry (2010) Authors: Garcia-Celma J.J., Ploch J., Smirnova I., Kaback H.R., Fendler K.

Electrogenic reactions accompanying downhill lactose/H+ symport catalyzed by the lactose permease of Escherichia coli (LacY) have been assessed using solid-supported membrane-based electrophysiology with improved time resolution. Rates of charge translocation generated by purified LacY reconstituted into proteoliposomes were analyzed over a pH range from 5.2 to 8.5, which allows characterization of two electrogenic steps in the transport mechanism: (i) a weak electrogenic reaction triggered by sugar binding and observed under conditions where H+ translocation is abolished either by acidic pH or by a Glu325 → Ala mutation in the H+ binding site (this step with a rate constant of ∼200 s−1 for wild-type LacY leads to an intermediate proposed to represent an “occluded” state) and (ii) a major electrogenic reaction corresponding to 94% of the total charge translocated at pH 8, which is pH-dependent with a maximum rate of ∼30 s−1 and a pK of 7.5. This partial reaction is assigned to rate-limiting H+ release on the cytoplasmic side of LacY during turnover. These findings together with previous electrophysiological results and biochemical−biophysical studies are included in an overall kinetic mechanism that allows delineation of the electrogenic steps in the reaction pathway.

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2010 – Electrophysiological characterization of ATPases in native synaptic vesicles and synaptic plasma membranes
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Biochemical Journal (2010) Authors: Obrdlik P., Diekert K., Watzke N., Keipert C., Pehl U., Brosch C., Boehm N., Bick I., Ruitenberg M., Volknandt W., Kelety B.

Vesicular V-ATPase (V-type H+-ATPase) and the plasma membrane-bound Na+/K+-ATPase are essential for the cycling of neurotransmitters at the synapse, but direct functional studies on their action in native surroundings are limited due to the poor accessibility via standard electrophysiological equipment. We performed SSM (solid supported membrane)-based electrophysiological analyses of synaptic vesicles and plasma membranes prepared from rat brains by sucrose-gradient fractionation. Acidification experiments revealed V-ATPase activity in fractions containing the vesicles but not in the plasma membrane fractions. For the SSM-based electrical measurements, the ATPases were activated by ATP concentration jumps. In vesicles, ATP-induced currents were inhibited by the V-ATPase-specific inhibitor BafA1 (bafilomycin A1) and by DIDS (4,4'-di-isothiocyanostilbene-2,2'-disulfonate). In plasma membranes, the currents were inhibited by the Na+/K+-ATPase inhibitor digitoxigenin. The distribution of the V-ATPase- and Na+/K+-ATPase-specific currents correlated with the distribution of vesicles and plasma membranes in the sucrose gradient. V-ATPase-specific currents depended on ATP with a K0.5 of 51+/-7 microM and were inhibited by ADP in a negatively co-operative manner with an IC50 of 1.2+/-0.6 microM. Activation of V-ATPase had stimulating effects on the chloride conductance in the vesicles. Low micromolar concentrations of DIDS fully inhibited the V-ATPase activity, whereas the chloride conductance was only partially affected. In contrast, NPPB [5-nitro-2-(3-phenylpropylamino)-benzoic acid] inhibited the chloride conductance but not the V-ATPase. The results presented describe electrical characteristics of synaptic V-ATPase and Na+/K+-ATPase in their native surroundings, and demonstrate the feasibility of the method for electrophysiological studies of transport proteins in native intracellular compartments and plasma membranes.

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2010 – Electrophysiology of respiratory chain complexes and the ADP-ATP exchanger in native mitochondrial membranes
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Biochemistry (2010) Authors: Watzke N., Diekert K., Obrdlik P.

Transport of protons and solutes across mitochondrial membranes is essential for many physiological processes. However, neither the proton-pumping respiratory chain complexes nor the mitochondrial secondary active solute transport proteins have been characterized electrophysiologically in their native environment. In this study, solid-supported membrane (SSM) technology was applied for electrical measurements of respiratory chain complexes CI, CII, CIII, and CIV, the F(O)F(1)-ATPase/synthase (CV), and the adenine nucleotide translocase (ANT) in inner membranes of pig heart mitochondria. Specific substrates and inhibitors were used to validate the different assays, and the corresponding K(0.5) and IC(50) values were in good agreement with previously published results obtained with other methods. In combined measurements of CI-CV, it was possible to detect oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), to measure differential effects of the uncoupler carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP) on the respective protein activities, and to determine the corresponding IC(50) values. Moreover, the measurements revealed a tight functional coupling of CI and CIII. Coenzyme Q (CoQ) analogues decylubiquinone (DBQ) and idebenone (Ide) stimulated the CII- and CIII-specific electrical currents but had inverse effects on CI-CIII activity. In summary, the results describe the electrophysiological and pharmacological properties of respiratory chain complexes, OXPHOS, and ANT in native mitochondrial membranes and demonstrate that SSM-based electrophysiology provides new insights into a complex molecular mechanism of the respiratory chain and the associated transport proteins. Besides, the SSM-based approach is suited for highly sensitive and specific testing of diverse respiratory chain modulators such as inhibitors, CoQ analogues, and uncoupling agents.

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2010 – Ircinialactams: subunit-selective glycine receptor modulators from Australian sponges of the family Irciniidae
Patchliner Publication in Bioorganic & Medical Chemistry (2010) Authors: Balansa W, Islam R, Fontaine F, Piggott AM, Zhang H, Webb TI, Gilbert DF, Lynch JW, Capon RJ.

Screening an extract library of >2500 southern Australian and Antarctic marine invertebrates and algae for modulators of glycine receptor (GlyR) chloride channels identified three Irciniidae sponges that yielded new examples of a rare class of glycinyl lactam sesterterpene, ircinialactam A, 8-hydroxyircinialactam A, 8-hydroxyircinialactam B, ircinialactam C, ent-ircinialactam C and ircinialactam D. Structure–activity relationship (SAR) investigations revealed a new pharmacophore with potent and subunit selective modulatory properties against α1 and α3 GlyR isoforms. Such GlyR modulators have potential application as pharmacological tools, and as leads for the development of GlyR targeting therapeutics to treat chronic inflammatory pain, epilepsy, spasticity and hyperekplexia.

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2010 – Multiplexed transposon-mediated stable gene transfer in human cells
Patchliner Publication in Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. (2010) Authors: Kahlig K.M., Saridey S.K., Kaja A., Daniels M.A., George A.L. Jr., Wilson M.H.

Generation of cultured human cells stably expressing one or more recombinant gene sequences is a widely used approach in biomedical research, biotechnology, and drug development. Conventional methods are not efficient and have severe limitations especially when engineering cells to coexpress multiple transgenes or multiprotein complexes. In this report, we harnessed the highly efficient, nonviral, and plasmid-based piggyBac transposon system to enable concurrent genomic integration of multiple independent transposons harboring distinct protein-coding DNA sequences. Flow cytometry of cell clones derived from a single multiplexed transfection demonstrated approximately 60% (three transposons) or approximately 30% (four transposons) stable coexpression of all delivered transgenes with selection for a single marker transposon. We validated multiplexed piggyBac transposon delivery by coexpressing large transgenes encoding a multisubunit neuronal voltage-gated sodium channel (SCN1A) containing a pore-forming subunit and two accessory subunits while using two additional genes for selection. Previously unobtainable robust sodium current was demonstrated through 38 passages, suitable for use on an automated high-throughput electrophysiology platform. Cotransfection of three large (up to 10.8 kb) piggyBac transposons generated a heterozygous SCN1A stable cell line expressing two separate alleles of the pore-forming subunit and two accessory subunits (total of four sodium channel subunits) with robust functional expression. We conclude that the piggyBac transposon system can be used to perform multiplexed stable gene transfer in cultured human cells, and this technology may be valuable for applications requiring concurrent expression of multiprotein complexes.

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2010 – Permeation of antibiotics through escherichia coli OmpF and OmpC porins: screening for influx on a single-molecule level
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Journal of Biomolecular Screening (2010) Authors: Mahendran K.R., Kreir M., Weingart H., Fertig N., Winterhalter M.

A chip-based automated patch-clamp technique provides an attractive biophysical tool to quantify solute permeation through membrane channels. Proteo–giant unilamellar vesicles (proteo-GUVs) were used to form a stable lipid bilayer across a micrometer-sized hole. Because of the small size and hence low capacitance of the bilayer, single-channel recordings were achieved with very low background noise. The latter allowed the characterization of the influx of 2 major classes of antibiotics—cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones—through the major Escherichia coli porins OmpF and OmpC. Analyzing the ion current fluctuations in the presence of antibiotics revealed transport properties that allowed the authors to determine the mode of permeation. The chip-based setup allows rapid solution exchange and efficient quantification of antibiotic permeation through bacterial porins on a single-molecule level.

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2010 – Planar Patch Clamp Approach to Characterize Ionic Currents from Intact Lysosomes
Port-a-Patch Publication in Science Signaling (2010) Authors: Schieder M., Rötzer K., Brüggemann A., Biel M., Wahl-Schott C.

Since its launch in the early 1980s, the patch clamp method has been extensively used to study ion channels in the plasma membrane, but its application to the study of intracellular ion channels has been limited. Unlike the plasma membrane, intracellular membranes are usually not stable enough to withstand mechanical manipulation by glass electrodes during seal formation and rupturing of the membrane. To circumvent these problems, we developed a method involving the immobilization of isolated organelles on a solid matrix planar glass chip. This glass chip contains a microstructured hole that supports the formation of gigaseals and subsequent electrophysiological recordings despite the high fragility of intracellular membranes. Here, we report the experimental details of this method using lysosomes, which are the smallest cellular organelles, as a model system. We demonstrate that we can record endogenous ionic currents from wild-type lysosomes, as well as from lysosomes overexpressing ion channels, and expect that this method will provide electrophysiological access to a broad range of intracellular ion channels.

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2010 – Pregnenolone Sulphate- and Cholesterol-Regulated TRPM3 Channels Coupled to Vascular Smooth Muscle Secretion and Contraction
Patchliner Publication in Circulation Research (2010) Authors: Naylor J., Li J., Milligan C.J, Zeng F., Sukumar P., Hou B., Sedo A., Yuldasheva N., Majeed Y., Beri D., Jiang S., Seymour V.A.L, McKeown L., Kumar B., Harteneck C., O'Regan D., Wheatcroft S.B., Kearney M.T, Jones C., Porter K.E., Beech D.J.

Rationale: Transient receptor potential melastatin (TRPM)3 is a calcium-permeable ion channel activated by the neurosteroid pregnenolone sulfate and positively coupled to insulin secretion in β cells. Although vascular TRPM3 mRNA has been reported, there is no knowledge of TRPM3 protein or its regulation and function in the cardiovascular system. Objective: To determine the relevance and regulation of TRPM3 in vascular biology. Methods and Results: TRPM3 expression was detected at mRNA and protein levels in contractile and proliferating vascular smooth muscle cells. Calcium entry evoked by pregnenolone sulfate or sphingosine was suppressed by TRPM3 blocking antibody or knock-down of TRPM3 by RNA interference. Low-level constitutive TRPM3 activity was also detected. In proliferating cells, channel activity was coupled negatively to interleukin-6 secretion via a calcium-dependent mechanism. In freshly isolated aorta, TRPM3 positively modulated contractile responses independently of L-type calcium channels. Concentrations of pregnenolone sulfate required to evoke responses were higher than the known plasma concentrations of the steroids, leading to a screen for other stimulators. β-Cyclodextrin was one of few stimulators of TRPM3, revealing the channels to be partially suppressed by endogenous cholesterol, the precursor of pregnenolone. Elevation of cholesterol further suppressed channel activity and loading with cholesterol to generate foam cells precluded observation of TRPM3 activity. Conclusions: The data suggest functional relevance of TRPM3 in contractile and proliferating phenotypes of vascular smooth muscle cells, significance of constitutive channel activity, regulation by cholesterol, and potential value of pregnenolone sulfate in therapeutic vascular modulation.

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2010 – Propranolol blocks cardiac and neuronal voltage-gated sodium channels
Patchliner Publication in Frontiers in Pharmacology (2010) Authors: Wang D.W., Mistry A.M., Kahlig K.M., Kearney J.A, Xiang J., George Jr. A.L.

Propranolol is a widely used, non-selective β-adrenergic receptor antagonist with proven efficacy in treating cardiovascular disorders and in the prevention of migraine headaches. At plasma concentrations exceeding those required for β-adrenergic receptor inhibition, propranolol also exhibits anti-arrhythmic (“membrane stabilizing”) effects that are not fully explained by β-blockade. Previous in vitro studies suggested that propranolol may have local anesthetic effects. We directly tested the effects of propranolol on heterologously expressed recombinant human cardiac (NaV1.5) and brain (NaV1.1, NaV1.2, NaV1.3) sodium channels using whole-cell patch-clamp recording. We found that block was not stereospecific as we observed approximately equal IC50 values for tonic and use-dependent block by R-(+) and S-(−) propranolol (tonic block: R: 21.4 μM vs S: 23.6 μM; use-dependent block: R: 2.7 μM vs S: 2.6 μM). Metoprolol and nadolol did not block NaV1.5 indicating that sodium channel block is not a class effect of β-blockers. The biophysical effects of R-(+)-propranolol on NaV1.5 and NaV1.1 resembled that of the prototypical local anesthetic lidocaine including the requirement for a critical phenylalanine residue (F1760 in NaV1.5) in the domain 4 S6 segment. Finally, we observed that brain sodium channels exhibited less sensitivity to R-(+)-propranolol than NaV1.5 channels. Our findings establish sodium channels as targets for propranolol and may help explain some beneficial effects of the drug in treating cardiac arrhythmias, and may explain certain adverse central nervous system effects.

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2010 – Renaissance of ion channel research and drug discovery by patch clamp automation
Port-a-Patch, Patchliner and SyncroPatch 96 (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384PE)  Publication in Future Medical Chemistry (2010) Authors: Farre C. and Fertig N.

Ion channels are highly intriguing biophysical entities that play an incredibly subtle role in the concerted actions in which they are involved, and that also have a crucial impact on inter- and intra-cellular communication. They respond to numerous kinds of stimuli and play a decisive role in the vitality of all living organisms. Ion channels are involved in the function of the cardiovascular and nervous systems and their malfunction underlies numerous diseases and indications. For exactly these reasons, ion channels have for decades been, and are still, the subject of in-depth research into a very broad range of important therapeutic areas. As membrane-bound proteins they are highly ‘druggable’ targets, being readily accessible to small molecules that are capable of fine tuning ion channel function by pharmacological modulation. Approximately 15% of the most successful drugs target ion channels, although ion channels have traditionally been difficult to screen due to a lack of adequate assays. Many of the marketed ion channel drugs were actually not discovered in rational drug-discovery programs, but rather empirically and by serendipity since the available ion channel-screening techniques typically confer a tradeoff between high content and high throughput.

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2010 – Solid-supported membrane technology for the investigation of the influenza A virus M2 channel activity
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology (2010) Authors: Balannik V., Obrdlik P., Inayat S., Steensen C., Wang J., Rausch J.M., DeGrado W.F., Kelety B., Pinto L.H.

Influenza A virus encodes an integral membrane protein, A/M2, that forms a pH-gated proton channel that is essential for viral replication. The A/M2 channel is a target for the anti-influenza drug amantadine, although the effectiveness of this drug has been diminished by the appearance of naturally occurring point mutations in the channel pore. Thus, there is a great need to discover novel anti-influenza therapeutics, and, since the A/M2 channel is a proven target, approaches are needed to screen for new classes of inhibitors for the A/M2 channel. Prior in-depth studies of the activity and drug sensitivity of A/M2 channels have employed labor-intensive electrophysiology techniques. In this study, we tested the validity of electrophysiological measurements with solid-supported membranes (SSM) as a less labor-intensive alternative technique for the investigation of A/M2 ion channel properties and for drug screening. By comparing the SSM-based measurements of the activity and drug sensitivity of A/M2 wild-type and mutant channels with measurements made with conventional electrophysiology methods, we show that SSM-based electrophysiology is an efficient and reliable tool for functional studies of the A/M2 channel protein and for screening compounds for inhibitory activity against the channel.

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2010 – Studying mechanosensitive ion channels using liposomes
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Methods in Molecular Biology (2010) Authors: Martinac B., Rohde P.R., Battle A. R., Petrov E., Pal P, Alexander Foo A.FW, Vásquez V., Huynh T. and Kloda A.

Mechanosensitive (MS) ion channels are the primary molecular transducers of mechanical force into electrical and/or chemical intracellular signals in living cells. They have been implicated in innumerable mechanosensory physiological processes including touch and pain sensation, hearing, blood pressure control, micturition, cell volume regulation, tissue growth, or cellular turgor control. Much of what we know about the basic physical principles underlying the conversion of mechanical force acting upon membranes of living cells into conformational changes of MS channels comes from studies of MS channels reconstituted into artificial liposomes. Using bacterial MS channels as a model, we have shown by reconstituting these channels into liposomes that there is a close relationship between the physico-chemical properties of the lipid bilayer and structural dynamics bringing about the function of these channels.

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2010 – The G215R Mutation in the Cl−/H+-Antiporter ClC-7 Found in ADO II Osteopetrosis Does Not Abolish Function but Causes a Severe Trafficking Defect
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in PLoS ONE (2010) Authors: Schulz P., Werner J., Stauber T., Henriksen K., Fendler K.

BACKGROUND:ClC-7 is a ubiquitous transporter which is broadly expressed in mammalian tissues. It is implied in the pathogenesis of lysosomal storage disease and osteopetrosis. Because of its endosomal/lysosomal localization it is still poorly characterized.METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:An electrophysiological characterization of rat ClC-7 using solid-supported membrane-based electrophysiology is presented. The measured currents show the characteristics of ClC-7 and confirm its function as a Cl-/H+-antiporter. We have used rat ClC-7 in CHO cells as a model system to investigate the functionality and cellular localization of the wt transporter and its variant G213R ClC-7 which is the analogue of human G215R ClC-7 responsible for autosomal dominant osteopetrosis type II. Our study shows that rat G213R ClC-7 is functional but has a localization defect in CHO cells which prevents it from being correctly targeted to the lysosomal membrane. The electrophysiological assay is tested as a tool for drug discovery. The assay is validated with a number of drug candidates. It is shown that ClC-7 is inhibited by DIDS, NPPB and NS5818 at micromolar concentrations.CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:It is suggested that the scenario found in the CHO model system also applies to the human transporter and that mislocalization rather than impaired functionality of G215R ClC-7 is the primary cause of the related autosomal dominant osteopetrosis type II. Furthermore, the robust solid-supported membrane-based electrophysiological assay is proposed for rapid screening for potential ClC-7 inhibitors which are discussed for treatment of osteoporosis.

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2010 – TRPV channels mediate temperature-sensing in human corneal endothelial cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Experimental Eye Research (2010) Authors: Mergler S., Valtink M., Coulson-Thomas V.J., Lindemann D., Reinach P.S., Engelmann K., Pleyer U.

The physiology and transparency of the cornea are dependent on corneal endothelial function. The role of temperature sensitive ion channels in maintaining such activity is unknown. This study was undertaken to probe for the functional expression of such pathways in human corneal endothelial cells (HCEC). We used HCEC-12, an immortalized population derived from whole corneal endothelium, and two morphologically distinct clonal cell lines derived from HCEC-12 (HCEC-H9C1, HCEC-B4G12) to probe for gene expression and function of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels of the vanilloid (V) isoform subfamily (i.e. TRPV1–3) in these cell types. Expression of TRPV isotypes 1, 2 and 3 were detected by RT-PCR. Protein expression of TRPV1 in situ was confirmed by immunostaining of corneoscleral remnants after keratoplasty. TRPV1–3 functional activity was evident based on capsaicin-induced Ca2+ transients and induction of these responses through rises in ambient temperature from 25 °C to over 40 °C. The currents underlying Ca2+ transients were characterized with a novel high throughput patch-clamp system. The TRPV1 selective agonist, capsaicin (CAP) (10–20 μM) increased non-selective cation whole-cell currents resulting in calcium increases that were fully blocked by either the TRPV1 antagonist capsazepine (CPZ) or removal of extracellular calcium. Similarly, heating from room temperature to over 40 °C increased the same currents resulting in calcium increases that were significantly reduced by the TRP channel blockers lanthanum chloride (La3+) (100 μM) and ruthenium-red (RuR) (10 μM), respectively. Moreover, application of the TRPV channel opener 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate (2-APB) (400 μM) led to a reversible increase in intracellular Ca2+ indicating putative TRPV1–3 channel activity. Taken together, TRPV activity modulation by temperature underlies essential homeostatic mechanisms contributing to the support of corneal endothelial function under different ambient conditions.

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2011 – Automated electrophysiology makes the pace for cardiac ion channel safety screening
Patchliner and SyncroPatch 96 (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384PE) Publication in Frontiers in Pharmacology (2011) Authors: Möller C., Witchel H.

The field of automated patch-clamp electrophysiology has emerged from the tension between the pharmaceutical industry’s need for high-throughput compound screening versus its need to be conservative due to regulatory requirements. On the one hand, hERG channel screening was increasingly requested for new chemical entities, as the correlation between blockade of the ion channel coded by hERG and torsades de pointes cardiac arrhythmia gained increasing attention. On the other hand, manual patch-clamping, typically quoted as the “gold-standard” for understanding ion channel function and modulation, was far too slow (and, consequently, too expensive) for keeping pace with the numbers of compounds submitted for hERG channel investigations from pharmaceutical R&D departments. In consequence it became more common for some pharmaceutical companies to outsource safety pharmacological investigations, with a focus on hERG channel interactions.This outsourcing has allowed those pharmaceutical companies to build up operational flexibility and greater independence from internal resources, and allowed them to obtain access to the latest technological developments that emerged in automated patch-clamp electrophysiology – much of which arose in specialized biotech companies. Assays for nearly all major cardiac ion channels are now available by automated patch-clamping using heterologous expression systems, and recently, automated action potential recordings from stem-cell derived cardiomyocytes have been demonstrated. Today, most of the large pharmaceutical companies have acquired automated electrophysiology robots and have established various automated cardiac ion channel safety screening assays on these, in addition to outsourcing parts of their needs for safety screening.

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2011 – Automated Patch Clamp on mESC-Derived Cardiomyocytes for Cardiotoxicity Prediction
Patchliner and Port-a-Patch Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2011) Authors: Stoelzle S., Haythornthwaite A., Kettenhofen R., Kolossov E., Bohlen H., George M., Brüggemann A., Fertig N.

Cardiovascular side effects are critical in drug development and have frequently led to late-stage project terminations or even drug withdrawal from the market. Physiologically relevant and predictive assays for cardiotoxicity are hence strongly demanded by the pharmaceutical industry. To identify a potential impact of test compounds on ventricular repolarization, typically a variety of ion channels in diverse heterologously expressing cells have to be investigated. Similar to primary cells, in vitro–generated stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes simultaneously express cardiac ion channels. Thus, they more accurately represent the native situation compared with cell lines overexpressing only a single type of ion channel. The aim of this study was to determine if stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes are suited for use in an automated patch clamp system. The authors show recordings of cardiac ion currents as well as action potential recordings in readily available stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes. Besides monitoring inhibitory effects of reference compounds on typical cardiac ion currents, the authors revealed for the first time drug-induced modulation of cardiac action potentials in an automated patch clamp system. The combination of an in vitro cardiac cell model with higher throughput patch clamp screening technology allows for a cost-effective cardiotoxicity prediction in a physiologically relevant cell system.

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2011 – Bacterial mechanosensitive channels as a paradigm for mechanosensory transduction
Port-a-Patch Publication in Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry (2011) Authors: Martinac B.

Research on bacterial mechanosensitive (MS) channels has since their discovery been at the forefront of the MS channel field due to extensive studies of the structure and function of MscL and MscS, two of the several different types of MS channels found in bacteria. Just a few years after these two MS channels were cloned their 3D structure was solved by X-ray crystallography. Today, the repertoire of multidisciplinary approaches used in experimental and theoretical studies following the cloning and crystallographic determination of the MscL and MscS structure has expanded by including electronparamagnetic resonance (EPR) and Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) spectroscopy aided by computational modelling employing molecular dynamics as well as Brownian dynamics simulations, which significantly advanced the understanding of structural determinants of the gating and conduction properties of these two MS channels. These extensive multidisciplinary studies of MscL and MscS have greatly contributed to elucidation of the basic physical principles of MS channel gating by mechanical force. This review summarizes briefly the major experimental and conceptual advancements, which helped in establishing MscL and MscS as a major paradigm of mechanosensory transduction in living cells.

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2011 – Cardiac Toxicity
Patchliner and Port-a-Patch book chapter in ADMET for Medicinal Chemists: A Practical Guide (2011) Authors: Kettenhofen R., Schwengberg S.
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2011 – Characterisation of the purified human sodium/iodide symporter reveals that the protein is mainly present in a dimeric form and permits the detailed study of a native C-terminal fragment
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Biomembranes (2011) Authors: Huc-Brandt S., Marcellin D., Graslin F., Averseng O., Bellanger L., Hivin P., Quemeneur E., Basquin C., NaVarro V., Pourcher T., Darrouzet E.

The sodium/iodide symporter is an intrinsic membrane protein that actively transports iodide into thyroid follicular cells. It is a key element in thyroid hormone biosynthesis and in the radiotherapy of thyroid tumours and their metastases. Sodium/iodide symporter is a very hydrophobic protein that belongs to the family of sodium/solute symporters. As for many other membrane proteins, particularly mammalian ones, little is known about its biochemistry and structure. It is predicted to contain 13 transmembrane helices, with an N-terminus oriented extracellularly. The C-terminal, cytosolic domain contains approximately one hundred amino acid residues and bears most of the transporter's putative regulatory sites (phosphorylation, sumoylation, di-acide, di-leucine or PDZ-binding motifs). In this study, we report the establishment of eukaryotic cell lines stably expressing various human sodium/iodide symporter recombinant proteins, and the development of a purification protocol which allowed us to purify milligram quantities of the human transporter. The quaternary structure of membrane transporters is considered to be essential for their function and regulation. Here, the oligomeric state of human sodium/iodide symporter was analysed for the first time using purified protein, by size exclusion chromatography and light scattering spectroscopy, revealing that the protein exists mainly as a dimer which is stabilised by a disulfide bridge. In addition, the existence of a sodium/iodide symporter C-terminal fragment interacting with the protein was also highlighted. We have shown that this fragment exists in various species and cell types, and demonstrated that it contains the amino-acids [512-643] from the human sodium/iodide symporter protein and, therefore, the last predicted transmembrane helix. Expression of either the [1-512] truncated domain or the [512-643] domain alone, as well as co-expression of the two fragments, was performed, and revealed that co-expression of [1-512] with [512-643] allowed the reconstitution of a functional protein. These findings constitute an important step towards an understanding of some of the post-translational mechanisms that finely tune iodide accumulation through human sodium/iodide symporter regulation.

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2011 – Characterization of transient receptor potential vanilloid channel 4 (TRPV4) in human corneal endothelial cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Experimental Eye Research (2011) Authors: Mergler S., Valtink M., Taetz K., Sahlmüller M., Fels G., Reinach P.S., Engelmann K., Pleyer U.

The transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) is a Ca2+-and Mg2+ permeable cation channel that might be a cellular osmosensor since it is activated upon hypotonic cell swelling. TRPV4 is also thermosensitive and responds to moderate heat (from 24 to 27 °C) as well as to phorbol esters (4α-PDD) and several endogenous substances including arachidonic acid (AA), the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG, and cytochrome P-450 metabolites of AA, such as epoxyeicosatrienoic acids. The resulting Ca2+ influx occurring in response to swelling induces regulatory volume decrease (RVD) behavior. As regulation of cell volume is essential for corneal endothelial function, we determined whether human corneal endothelial cells have functional TRPV4 channel activity. RT-PCR identified TRPV4 gene expression in the HCEC-12 cell line as well as two clonal daughter cell lines (HCEC-H9C1, HCEC-B4G12). [Ca2+]i transients were monitored in fura-2 loaded cells. Nonselective cation channel currents were recorded in the whole-cell mode of the planar patch-clamp technique. TRPV4 mRNA was found in HCEC-12 and the clonal daughter cell lines. TRPV4 channel agonists (4α-PDD and GSK1016790A; both 5 μmol/l) as well as moderate heat (40 °C) elicited [Ca2+]i transients. Hypotonicity increased [Ca2+]i and nonselective cation channel currents in HCEC-12 cells. There is functional TRPV4 expression in HCEC-12 and in its clonal daughter cell lines based on Ca2+ transients and underlying currents induced by known activators of this channel.

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2011 – Chemical and biological characterization of four new linear cationic a-helical peptides from the venoms of two solitary eumenine wasps
Port-a-Patch Publication in Toxicon (2011) Authors: Rangel M., dos Santos Cabrera M.P., Kazuma K., Ando K., Wang X., Kato M., Nihei K., HirataI.Y., Cross T.J., Garcia .N., Faquim-Mauro E.L., Franzolin M.R., Fuchino H., Mori-Yasumoto K., SekitaS., Kadowaki M., SatakeM., KonnoK.

Four novel peptides were isolated from the venoms of the solitary eumenine wasps Eumenes rubrofemoratus and Eumenes fraterculus. Their sequences were determined by MALDI-TOF/TOF (matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry) analysis, Edman degradation and solid-phase synthesis. Two of them, eumenitin-R (LNLKGLIKKVASLLN) and eumenitin-F (LNLKGLFKKVASLLT), are highly homologous to eumenitin, an antimicrobial peptide from a solitary eumenine wasp, whereas the other two, EMP-ER (FDIMGLIKKVAGAL-NH2) and EMP-EF (FDVMGIIKKIAGAL-NH2), are similar to eumenine mastoparan-AF (EMP-AF), a mast cell degranulating peptide from a solitary eumenine wasp. These sequences have the characteristic features of linear cationic cytolytic peptides; rich in hydrophobic and basic amino acids with no disulfide bond, and accordingly, they can be predicted to adopt an amphipathic α-helix secondary structure. In fact, the CD (circular dichroism) spectra of these peptides showed significant α-helical conformation content in the presence of TFE (trifluoroethanol), SDS (sodium dodecylsulfate) and asolectin vesicles. In the biological evaluation, all the peptides exhibited a significant broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, and moderate mast cell degranulation and leishmanicidal activities, but showed virtually no hemolytic activity.

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2011 – Development of a selective small-molecule inhibitor of Kir1.1, the Renal Outer Medullary Potassium Channel
Patchliner Publication in Molecular Pharmacology (2011) Authors: Bhave G., Chauder B.A., Liu W., Dawson E.S., Kadakia R., Nguyen T.T., Lewis L.M., Meiler J., Weaver C.D., Satlin L.M., Lindsley C.W., Denton J.S.

The renal outer medullary potassium (K+) channel, ROMK (Kir1.1), is a putative drug target for a novel class of loop diuretic that would lower blood volume and pressure without causing hypokalemia. However, the lack of selective ROMK inhibitors has hindered efforts to assess its therapeutic potential. In a high-throughput screen for small-molecule modulators of ROMK, we previously identified a potent and moderately selective ROMK antagonist, 7,13-bis(4-nitrobenzyl)-1,4,10-trioxa-7,13-diazacyclopentadecane (VU590), that also inhibits Kir7.1. Because ROMK and Kir7.1 are coexpressed in the nephron, VU590 is not a good probe of ROMK function in the kidney. Here we describe the development of the structurally related inhibitor 2,2′-oxybis(methylene)bis(5-nitro-1H-benzo[d]imidazole) (VU591), which is as potent as VU590 but is selective for ROMK over Kir7.1 and more than 65 other potential off-targets. VU591 seems to block the intracellular pore of the channel. The development of VU591 may enable studies to explore the viability of ROMK as a diuretic target.

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2011 – Development of an assay for Complex I/Complex III of the respiratory chain using solid supported membranes and its application in mitochondrial toxicity screening in drug discovery
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in ASSAY and Drug Development Technologies (2011) Authors: Preissl S., Bick I., Obrdlik P., Diekert K., Gul S., Gribbon P.

Membrane-bound transporter proteins are involved in cell signal transduction and metabolism as well as influencing key pharmacological properties such as drug bioavailability. The functional activity of transporters that belong to the group of electrically active membrane proteins can be directly monitored using the solid-supported membrane-based SURFE(2)R™ technology (SURFace Electrogenic Event Reader; Scientific Devices Heidelberg GmbH, Heidelberg, Germany). The method makes use of membrane fragments or vesicles containing transport proteins adsorbed onto solid-supported membrane-covered electrodes and allows the direct measurement of their activity. This technology has been used to develop a robust screening compatible assay for Complex I/Complex III, key components of the respiratory chain in 96-well microtiter plates. The assay was screened against 1,000 compounds from the ComGenex Lead-like small molecule library to ascertain whether mitochondrial liabilities might be an underlying, although undesirable feature of typical commercial screening libraries. Some 105 hits (compounds exhibiting >50% inhibition of Complex I/Complex III activity at 10 μM) were identified and their activities were subsequently confirmed in duplicate, yielding a confirmation rate of 68%. Analysis of the confirmed hits also provided evidence of structure-activity relationships and two compounds from one structural class were further evaluated in dose-response experiments. This study provides evidence that profiling of compounds for potential mitochondrial liabilities, even at an early stage of drug discovery, may be a necessary additional quality filter that should be considered during the compound screening and profiling cascade.

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2011 – Functional Analysis of Synthetic Substructures of Polytheonamide B: A Transmembrane Channel-Forming Peptide
Port-a-Patch Publication in Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2011) Authors: Matsuoka S., Shinohara N., Takahashi T., Iida M., Inoue M.

Polytheonamide B, the largest nonribosomal linear peptide identified to date, is a transmembrane channel-forming peptide. Nine of its substructures have now been chemically synthesized. The membrane-disrupting and ion-channel-forming sequences as well as the cytotoxicity-enhancing sequence have been identified.

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2011 – G117C MelB, a mutant melibiose permease with a changed conformational equilibrium
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Biomembranes (2011) Authors: Ganea C., Meyer-Lipp K., Lemonnier R., Krah A., Leblanc G., Fendler K.

Replacement of the glycine at position 117 by a cysteine in the melibiose permease creates an interesting phenotype: while the mutant transporter shows still transport activity comparable to the wild type its pre steady-state kinetic properties are drastically altered. The transient charge displacements after substrate concentration jumps are strongly reduced and the fluorescence changes disappear. Together with its maintained transport activity this indicates that substrate translocation in G117C melibiose permease is not impaired but that the initial conformation of the mutant transporter differs from that of the wild type permease. A kinetic model for the G117C melibiose permease based on a rapid dynamic equilibrium of the substrate free transporter is proposed. Implications of the kinetic model for the transport mechanism of the wild type permease are discussed.

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2011 – Nanopore-based single-molecule mass spectrometry on a lipid membrane microarray
Orbit 16 Publication in Journal of the American Chemical Society Nano (2011) Authors: Baaken G., Ankri N., Schuler A.K., Rühe J., Behrends C.

We report on parallel high-resolution electrical single-molecule analysis on a chip-based nanopore microarray. Lipid bilayers of 20 μm diameter containing single alpha-hemolysin pores were formed on arrays of subpicoliter CaVities containing individual microelectrodes (microelectrode CaVity array, MECA), and ion conductance-based single molecule mass spectrometry was performed on mixtures of poly(ethylene glycol) molecules of different length. We thereby demonstrate the function of the MECA device as a chip-based platform for array-format nanopore recordings with a resolution at least equal to that of established single microbilayer supports. We conclude that devices based on MECAs may enable more widespread analytical use of nanopores by providing the high throughput and ease of operation of a high-density array format while maintaining or exceeding the precision of state-of-the-art microbilayer recordings.

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2011 – Pharmacological studies of CaV3.1 T-type calcium channels using automated patch-clamp techniques
Patchliner Publication in General Physiology and Biophysics (2011) Authors: Choi K.-H., Song C., Cheong C.S., Rhim H.

T-type calcium channels are involved in a variety of physiological and pathophysiological processes, and thus could be therapeutic targets. However, there is no T-type channel selective blocker for use in clinical practice, demanding a need for the development of novel drugs where a higher-throughput screening system is required. Here we present pharmacological studies on CaV3.1 T-type channels using automated patch-clamp. The IC50 values obtained from automated patch-clamp and conventional one showed a good correlation (correlation coefficient of 0.82), suggesting that the automated patch-clamp is an efficient and reliable method for ranking the drug potencies for T-type channels.

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2011 – Physiology of the Human Corneal Endothelium – New Insights from Electrophysiological Investigations
Port-a-Patch Publication in Klinische Monatsblätter für Augenheilkunde (2011) Authors: Mergler S. and Pleyer U.

Currently, the identification of apoptotic or damaged human corneal endothelial (HCE) cells is limited to a morphological assessment and vital staining. Specific electrophysiological investigations may prospectively help to identify damaged HCE cells at an earlier stage. Besides calcium imaging, the so-called patch-clamp technique is an important test method enabling one to assay the effect of various substances on ion channels and receptors of the cell membrane. First electrophysiological pilot experiments with cultivated and freshly isolated HCE cells have revealed promising results. In this way, the expression of certain transient receptor potential channels (TRPs) could be demonstrated. However, the function of these channels is still not fully elucidated. In humans, TRPs play a crucial role in the sense of taste, pheromones, temperature and pain and are involved in osmolarity. This review summarises the current literature on the electrophysiology of the human corneal endothelium and deduces potential approaches to a sensitive vitality and function test under utilisation of the electrophysiological properties of HCE cells.

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2011 – Rapid and Contrasting Effects of Rosiglitazone on Transient Receptor Potential TRPM3 and TRPC5 Channels
Patchliner Publication in Molecular Pharmacology (2011) Authors: Majeed Y., Bahnasi Y., Seymour V.A.L., Wilson L.A., Milligan C.J., Agarwal A.K., Sukumar P., Naylor J., Beech D.J.

The aim of this study was to generate new insight into chemical regulation of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels with relevance to glucose homeostasis and the metabolic syndrome. Human TRP melastatin 2 (TRPM2), TRPM3, and TRP canonical 5 (TRPC5) were conditionally overexpressed in human embryonic kidney 293 cells and studied by using calcium-measurement and patch-clamp techniques. Rosiglitazone and other peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ) agonists were investigated. TRPM2 was unaffected by rosiglitazone at concentrations up to 10 μM but was inhibited completely at higher concentrations (IC50, ∼22.5 μM). TRPM3 was more potently inhibited, with effects occurring in a biphasic concentration-dependent manner such that there was approximately 20% inhibition at low concentrations (0.1–1 μM) and full inhibition at higher concentrations (IC50, 5–10 μM). PPAR-γ antagonism by 2-chloro-5-nitrobenzanilide (GW9662) did not prevent inhibition of TRPM3 by rosiglitazone. TRPC5 was strongly stimulated by rosiglitazone at concentrations of ≥10 μM (EC50, ∼30 μM). Effects on TRPM3 and TRPC5 occurred rapidly and reversibly. Troglitazone and pioglitazone inhibited TRPM3 (IC50, 12 μM) but lacked effect on TRPC5, suggesting no relevance of PPAR-γ or the thiazolidinedione moiety to rosiglitazone stimulation of TRPC5. A rosiglitazone-related but nonthiazolidinedione PPAR-γ agonist, N-(2-benzoylphenyl)-O-[2-(methyl-2-pyridinylamino)ethyl]-l-tyrosine (GW1929), was a weak stimulator of TRPM3 and TRPC5. The natural PPAR-γ agonist 15-deoxy prostaglandin J2, had no effect on TRPM3 or TRPC5. The data suggest that rosiglitazone contains chemical moieties that rapidly, strongly, and differentially modulate TRP channels independently of PPAR-γ, potentially contributing to biological consequences of the agent and providing the basis for novel TRP channel pharmacology.

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2011 – Robust Electrophysiological Assays using Solid Supported Membranes: the Organic Cation Transporter OCT2
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of the SURFE2R N1) Publication in Australian Journal of Chemistry (2011) Authors: Gaiko O., Janausch I., Geibel S., Vollert H., Arndt P., Gonski S., Fendler K.

An electrophysiological assay platform based on solid supported membranes (SSM) for the organic cation transporter (OCT) is presented. Stable Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell lines overexpressing the human (hOCT2) and rat transporters (rOCT2) were generated and validated. Membrane preparations from the cell lines were investigated using SSM-based electrophysiology. Baculovirus transfected insect cells (HighFive and Mimic Sf9) were also tested with the same assay but yielded less than optimal results. The assays were validated by the determination of substrate affinities and inhibition by standard inhibitors. The study demonstrates the suitability of the SSM-based electrophysiological OCT assay for rapid and automatic screening of drug candidates.

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2011 – State-of-the-art automated patch clamp devices: heat activation, action potentials, and high throughput in ion channel screening
Port-a-Patch, Patchliner and SyncroPatch 96 (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384PE) Publication in Frontiers in Pharmacology (2011) Authors: Stoelzle S., Obergrussberger A., Brüggemann A., Haarmann C., George M., Kettenhofen R., Fertig N.

Ion channels are essential in a wide range of cellular functions and their malfunction underlies many disease states making them important targets in drug discovery. The availability of standardized cell lines expressing ion channels of interest lead to the development of diverse automated patch clamp (APC) systems with high-throughput capabilities. These systems are now available for drug screening, but there are limitations in the application range. However, further development of existing devices and introduction of new systems widen the range of possible experiments and increase throughput. The addition of well controlled and fast solution exchange, temperature control and the availability of the current clamp mode are required to analyze standard cell lines and excitable cells such as stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes in a more physiologically relevant environment. Here we describe two systems with different areas of applications that meet the needs of drug discovery researchers and basic researchers alike. The here utilized medium throughput APC device is a planar patch clamp system capable of recording up to eight cells simultaneously. Features such as temperature control and recordings in the current clamp mode are described here. Standard cell lines and excitable cells such as stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes have been used in the voltage clamp and current clamp modes with the view to finding new drug candidates and safety testing methods in a more physiologically relevant environment. The high-throughput system used here is a planar patch clamp screening platform capable of recording from 96 cells in parallel and offers a throughput of 5000 data points per day. Full dose response curves can be acquired from individual cells reducing the cost per data point. The data provided reveals the suitability and relevance of both APC platforms for drug discovery, ion channel research, and safety testing.

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2011 – The Chimeric approach reveals that differences in the TRPV1 pore domain determine species-specific sensitivity to block of heat activation
Patchliner Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2011) Authors: Papakosta M., Dalle C., Haythornthwaite A., Cao L., Stevens E.B., Burgess G., Russell R., Cox P.J., Phillips S.C., Grimm C.

The capsaicin-, heat-, and proton-activated ion channel TRPV1, a member of the transient receptor potential cation channel family is a polymodal nociceptor. For almost a decade, TRPV1 has been explored by the pharmaceutical industry as a potential target for example for pain conditions. Antagonists which block TRPV1 activation by capsaicin, heat, and protons were developed by a number of pharmaceutical companies. The unexpected finding of hyperthermia as an on-target side effect in clinical studies using polymodal TRPV1 antagonists has prompted companies to search for ways to circumvent hyperthermia, for example by the development of modality-selective antagonists. The significant lack of consistency of the pharmacology of many TRPV1 antagonists across different species has been a further obstacle. JYL-1421 for example was shown to block capsaicin and heat responses in human and monkey TRPV1 while it was largely ineffective in blocking heat responses in rat TRPV1. These findings suggested structural dissimilarities between different TRPV1 species relevant for small compound antagonism for example of heat activation. Using a chimeric approach (human and rat TRPV1) in combination with a novel FLIPR-based heat activation assay and patch-clamp electrophysiology we have identified the pore region as being strongly linked to the observed species differences. We demonstrate that by exchanging the pore domains JYL-1421, which is modality-selective in rat can be made modality-selective in human TRPV1 and vice-versa.

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2011 – Thermosensitive transient receptor potential channels in human corneal epithelial cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Journal of Cellular Physiology (2011) Authors: Mergler S., Garreis F., Sahlmüller M., Reinach P.S., Paulsen F., and Pleyer U.

Thermosensitive transient receptor potential (TRP) proteins such as TRPV1–TRPV4 are all heat-activated non-selective cation channels that are modestly permeable to Ca2+. TRPV1, TRPV3, and TRPV4 functional expression were previously identified in human corneal epithelial cells (HCEC). However, the membrane currents were not described underlying their activation by either selective agonists or thermal variation. This study characterized the membrane currents and [Ca 2+]i transients induced by thermal and agonist TRPV1 and 4 stimulation. TRPV1 and 4 expressions were confirmed by RT-PCR and TRPV2 transcripts were also detected. In fura2-loaded HCEC, a TRPV1–3 selective agonist, 100 µM 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate (2-APB), induced intracellular Ca2+ transients and an increase in non-selective cation outward currents that were suppressed by ruthenium-red (RuR) (10–20 µM), a non-selective TRPV channel blocker. These changes were also elicited by rises in ambient temperature from 25 to over 40°C. RuR (5 µM) and a selective TRPV1 channel blocker capsazepine CPZ (10 µM) or another related blocker, lanthanum chloride (La3+) (100 µM) suppressed these temperature-induced Ca2+ increases. Planar patch-clamp technique was used to characterize the currents underlying Ca2+ transients. Increasing the temperature to over 40°C induced reversible rises in non-selective cation currents. Moreover, a hypotonic challenge (25%) increased non-selective cation currents confirming TRPV4 activity. We conclude that HCEC possess in addition to thermo-sensitive TRPV3 activity TRPV1, TRPV2, and TRPV4 activity. Their activation confers temperature sensitivity at the ocular surface, which may protect the cornea against such stress.

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2011 – Transport Mechanism and pH Regulation of the Na+/H+ Antiporter NhaA from Escherichia coli
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2011) Authors: Mager T., Rimon A., Padan E., Fendler K.

Using an electrophysiological assay the activity of NhaA was tested in a wide pH range from pH 5.0 to 9.5. Forward and reverse transport directions were investigated at zero membrane potential using preparations with inside-out and right side-out-oriented transporters with Na+ or H+ gradients as the driving force. Under symmetrical pH conditions with a Na+ gradient for activation, both the wt and the pH-shifted G338S variant exhibit highly symmetrical transport activity with bell-shaped pH dependences, but the optimal pH was shifted 1.8 pH units to the acidic range in the variant. In both strains the pH dependence was associated with a systematic increase of the Km for Na+ at acidic pH. Under symmetrical Na+ concentration with a pH gradient for NhaA activation, an unexpected novel characteristic of the antiporter was revealed; rather than being down-regulated, it remained active even at pH as low as 5. These data allowed a transport mechanism to advance based on competing Na+ and H+ binding to a common transport site and a kinetic model to develop quantitatively explaining the experimental results. In support of these results, both alkaline pH and Na+ induced the conformational change of NhaA associated with NhaA cation translocation as demonstrated here by trypsin digestion. Furthermore, Na+ translocation was found to be associated with the displacement of a negative charge. In conclusion, the electrophysiological assay allows the revelation of the mechanism of NhaA antiport and sheds new light on the concept of NhaA pH regulation.

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2011 – Voltage-gated sodium channel (NaV) protein dissection creates a set of functional pore-only proteins
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (2011) Authors: Shaya D., Kreir M., Robbins R.A., Wong S., Hammon J., Brüggemann A., Minor Jr. D.L.

Many voltage-gated ion channel (VGIC) superfamily members contain six-transmembrane segments in which the first four form a voltage-sensing domain (VSD) and the last two form the pore domain (PD). Studies of potassium channels from the VGIC superfamily together with identification of voltage-sensor only proteins have suggested that the VSD and the PD can fold independently. Whether such transmembrane modularity is common to other VGIC superfamily members has remained untested. Here we show, using protein dissection, that the Silicibacter pomeroyi voltage-gated sodium channel (NaVSp1) PD forms a stand-alone, ion selective pore (NaVSp1p) that is tetrameric, α-helical, and that forms functional, sodium-selective channels when reconstituted into lipid bilayers. Mutation of the NaVSp1p selectivity filter from LESWSM to LDDWSD, a change similar to that previously shown to alter ion selectivity of the bacterial sodium channel NaVBh1 (NaChBac), creates a calcium-selective pore-only channel, CaVSp1p. We further show that production of PDs can be generalized by making pore-only proteins from two other extremophile NaVs: one from the hydrocarbon degrader Alcanivorax borkumensis (NaVAb1p), and one from the arsenite oxidizer Alkalilimnicola ehrlichei (NaVAe1p). Together, our data establish a family of active pore-only ion channels that should be excellent model systems for study of the factors that govern both sodium and calcium selectivity and permeability. Further, our findings suggest that similar dissection approaches may be applicable to a wide range of VGICs and, thus, serve as a means to simplify and accelerate biophysical, structural, and drug development efforts.

2012 – Altered calcium regulation by thermosensitive transient receptor potential channels in etoposide-resistant WERI-Rb1 retinoblastoma cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Experimental Eye Research (2012) Authors: Mergler S, Cheng Y, Skosyrski S, Garreis F, Pietrzak P, Kociok N, Dwarakanath A, Reinach PS, Kakkassery V.

Differences in transient receptor potential (TRP) and cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) expression levels can serve as prognostic factors for retinoblastoma (RB) tumor progression. We hypothesized in RB tissue that such differences are also indicators of whether or not they are sensitive to etoposide. Accordingly, we compared in malignant etoposide-sensitive and etoposide-resistant WERI-Rb1 cells TRPV1, TRPM8 and TRPA1 subtype and CB1 gene expression pattern levels and accompanying functional activity using quantitative real-time RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence microscopy, calcium imaging as well as patch-clamp technology. Gene expression patterns were evaluated in enucleated human RB tissues (n = 4). Both etoposide-resistant and etoposide-sensitive WERI-Rb1 cells expressed all of the aforementioned channels based on responses to known activators and thermal challenges. However, TRPA1 was absent in the etoposide-resistant counterpart. Even though both types of RB cells express TRPV1 as well as TRPM8 and CB1, the capsaicin (50 μM) (CAP)-induced Ca(2+) rise caused by TRPV1 activation was prompt and transient only in etoposide-resistant RB cells (n = 8). In this cell type, the inability of CB1 activation (10 μM WIN) to suppress Ca(2+) responses to CAP (50 μM; n = 4) may be attributable to the absence of TRPA1 gene expression. Therefore, using genetic approaches to upregulate TRPA1 expression could provide a means to induce etoposide sensitivity and suppress RB cell tumorigenesis.

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2012 – Alternative splicing of the N-terminal cytosolic and transmembrane domains of P2X7 controls gating of the ion channel by ADP-ribosylation
Port-a-Patch Publication in PLoS ONE (2012) Authors: Schwarz N., Drouot L., Nicke A., Fliegert R., Boyer O., Guse A.H., Haag F., Adriouch S., Koch-Nolte F.

P2X7 is a homotrimeric ion channel with two transmembrane domains and a large extracellular ATP-binding domain. It plays a key role in the response of immune cells to danger signals released from cells at sites of inflammation. Gating of murine P2X7 can be induced by the soluble ligand ATP, as well as by NAD(+)-dependent ADP-ribosylation of arginine 125, a posttranslational protein modification catalyzed by the toxin-related ecto-enzymes ART2.1 and ART2.2. R125 is located at the edge of the ligand-binding crevice. Recently, an alternative splice variant of P2X7, designated P2X7(k), was discovered that differs from the previously described variant P2X7(a) in the N-terminal 42 amino acid residues composing the first cytosolic domain and most of the Tm1 domain. Here we compare the two splice variants of murine P2X7 with respect to their sensitivities to gating by ADP-ribosylation in transfected HEK cells. Our results show that the P2X7(k) variant is sensitive to activation by ADP-ribosylation whereas the P2X7(a) variant is insensitive, despite higher cell surface expression levels. Interestingly, a single point mutation (R276K) renders the P2X7(a) variant sensitive to activation by ADP-ribosylation. Residue 276 is located at the interface of neighboring subunits approximately halfway between the ADP-ribosylation site and the transmembrane domains. Moreover, we show that naive and regulatory T cells preferentially express the more sensitive P2X7(k) variant, while macrophages preferentially express the P2X7(a) variant. Our results indicate that differential splicing of alternative exons encoding the N-terminal cytosolic and transmembrane domains of P2X7 control the sensitivity of different immune cells to extracellular NAD(+) and ATP.

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2012 – Assaying the proton transport and regulation of UCP1 using solid supported membranes
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in European Biophysics Journal (2012) Authors: Blesneac I., Ravaud S., Machillot P., Zoonens M., Masscheylen S., Miroux B., Vivaudou M., Pebay-Peyroula E.

The uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) is a mitochondrial protein that carries protons across the inner mitochondrial membrane. It has an important role in non-shivering thermogenesis, and recent evidence suggests its role in human adult metabolism. Using rapid solution exchange on solid supported membranes, we succeeded in measuring electrical currents generated by the transport activity of UCP1. The protein was purified from mouse brown adipose tissue, reconstituted in liposomes and absorbed on solid supported membranes. A fast pH jump activated the ion transport, and electrical signals could be recorded. The currents were characterized by a fast rise and a slow decay, were stable over time, inhibited by purine nucleotides and activated by fatty acids. This new assay permits direct observation of UCP1 activity in controlled cell-free conditions, and opens up new possibilities for UCP1 functional characterization and drug screening because of its robustness and its potential for automation.

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2012 – Calcium regulation by thermo- and osmosensing transient receptor potential vanilloid channels (TRPVs) in human conjunctival epithelial cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Histochemistry and Cell Biology (2012) Authors: Mergler S., Garreis F., Sahlmüller M., Lyras E.-M., Reinach P.S., Dwarakanath A., Paulsen F., Pleyer U.

Transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV) channels respond to polymodal stresses to induce pain, inflammation and tissue fibrosis. In this study, we probed for their functional expression in human conjunctival epithelial (HCjE) cells and ex vivo human conjunctivas. Notably, patients suffering from dry eye syndrome experience the same type of symptomology induced by TRPV channel activation in other ocular tissues. TRPV gene and protein expression were determined by RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry in HCjE cells and human conjunctivas (body donors). The planar patch-clamp technique was used to record nonselective cation channel currents. Ca2+ transients were monitored in fura-2 loaded cells. Cultivated HCjE cells and human conjunctiva express TRPV1, TRPV2, and TRPV4 mRNA. TRPV1 and TRPV4 localization was identified in human conjunctiva. Whereas the TRPV1 agonist capsaicin (CAP) (5–20 μM) -induced Ca2+ transients were blocked by capsazepine (CPZ) (10 μM), the TRPV4 activator 4α-PDD (10 μM) -induced Ca2+ increases were reduced by ruthenium-red (RuR) (20 μM). Different heating (40°C or >43°C) led to Ca2+ increases, which were also reduced by RuR. Hypotonic challenges of either 25 or 50% induced Ca2+ transients and nonselective cation channel currents. In conclusion, conjunctiva express TRPV1, TRPV2, and TRPV4 channels which may provide novel drug targets for dry eye therapeutics. Their usage may have fewer side effects than those currently encountered with less selective drugs.

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2012 – Characterizing Human Ion Channels in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neurons
Patchliner Publication in Journal of Biomolecular Screening (2012) Authors: Haythornthwaite A, Stoelzle S, Hasler A, Kiss A, Mosbacher J, George M, Brüggemann A, Fertig N.

Neurons derived from human-induced pluripotent stem cells were characterized using manual and automated patch-clamp recordings. These cells expressed voltage-gated Na+ (NaV), Ca2+ (CaV), and K+ (KV) channels as expected from excitable cells. The NaV current was TTX sensitive, IC50 = 12 ± 6 nM (n = 5). About 50% of the CaV current was blocked by 10 µM of the L-type channel blocker nifedipine. Two populations of the KV channel were present in different proportions: an inactivating (A-type) and a noninactivating type. The A-type current was sensitive to 4-AP and TEA (IC50 = 163 ± 93 µM; n = 3). Application of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activated a current sensitive to the GABAA receptor antagonist bicuculline, IC50 = 632 ± 149 nM (n = 5). In both devices, comparable action potentials were generated in the current clamp. With unbiased, automated patch clamp, about 40% of the cells expressed NaV currents, whereas visual guidance in manual patch clamp provided almost a 100% success rate of patching “excitable cells.” These results show high potential for pluripotent stem cell–derived neurons as a useful model for drug discovery, in combination with automated patch-clamp recordings for high-throughput and high-quality drug assessments at human neuronal ion channels in their correct cellular background.

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2012 – Design, synthesis and functional analysis of dansylated polytheonamide mimic: an artificial Peptide ion channel
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Journal of the American Chemical Society (2012) Authors: Itoh H., Matsuoka S., Kreir M., Inoue M.

We report herein the design, total synthesis, and functional analysis of a novel artificial ion channel molecule, designated as dansylated polytheonamide mimic (3). The channel 3 was designed based on an exceptionally potent cytotoxin, polytheonamide B (1). Our strategy for the development of synthetic ion channels, which could be easily derivatized for various functions, involved two key features. First, the structure of 1 was simplified by replacing many of nonproteinogenic amino acid residues which required multistep synthesis by commercially available amino acids while retaining those residues necessary for folding. It significantly reduced the number of synthetic steps and facilitated a practical chemical construction of 3. Second, the introduction of propargyl glycine at residue 44 enabled facile installation of dansyl group as a reporter of the membrane localization of 3. Application of a newly designed protective group strategy provided efficient construction of the 37 amino acid sequence of residues 12–48 through one automatic solid-phase peptide synthesis. After peptide cleavage from the resin, 3 was synthesized via dansyl group introduction and one fragment-coupling reaction with residues 1–11, followed by the global deprotection. The simplified mimic 3 exhibited potent cytotoxicity toward p388 mouse leukemia cells (IC50 = 12 nM), effectively induced ion transport across the lipid bilayers of liposomes, and displayed H+ and Na+ ion channel activities. Because of its simplified yet functional scaffold structure with a potential for diversification, our rationally designed ion channel molecule should be useful as a novel platform for developing various cytotoxic channel molecules with additional desired functions.

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2012 – Distinctive features of catalytic and transport mechanisms in mammalian sarco-endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA) and Cu+ (ATP7A/B) ATPases
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2012) Authors: Lewis D., Pilankatta R., Inesi G., Bartolommei G., Moncelli M.R., Tadini-Buoninsegni F.

Ca2+ (sarco-endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA)) and Cu+ (ATP7A/B) ATPases utilize ATP through formation of a phosphoenzyme intermediate (E-P) whereby phosphorylation potential affects affinity and orientation of bound cation. SERCA E-P formation is rate-limited by enzyme activation by Ca2+, demonstrated by the addition of ATP and Ca2+ to SERCA deprived of Ca2+ (E2) as compared with ATP to Ca2+-activated enzyme (E1·2Ca2+). Activation by Ca2+ is slower at low pH (2H+·E2 to E1·2Ca2+) and little sensitive to temperature-dependent activation energy. On the other hand, subsequent (forward or reverse) phosphoenzyme processing is sensitive to activation energy, which relieves conformational constraints limiting Ca2+ translocation. A “H+-gated pathway,” demonstrated by experiments on pH variations, charge transfer, and Glu-309 mutation allows luminal Ca2+ release by H+/Ca2+ exchange. As compared with SERCA, initial utilization of ATP by ATP7A/B is much slower and highly sensitive to temperature-dependent activation energy, suggesting conformational constraints of the headpiece domains. Contrary to SERCA, ATP7B phosphoenzyme cleavage shows much lower temperature dependence than EP formation. ATP-dependent charge transfer in ATP7A and -B is observed, with no variation of net charge upon pH changes and no evidence of Cu+/H+ exchange. As opposed to SERCA after Ca2+ chelation, ATP7A/B does not undergo reverse phosphorylation with Pi after copper chelation unless a large N-metal binding extension segment is deleted. This is attributed to the inactivating interaction of the copper-deprived N-metal binding extension with the headpiece domains. We conclude that in addition to common (P-type) phosphoenzyme intermediate formation, SERCA and ATP7A/B possess distinctive features of catalytic and transport mechanisms.

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2012 – DNA unzipping and protein unfolding using nanopores
Port-a-Patch Publication in Methods of Molecular Biology (2012) Authors: Merstorf C., Cressiot B., Pastoriza-Gallego M., Oukhaled A.G., Bacri L., Gierak J., Pelta J., Auvray L., Mathé J.

We present here an overview on unfolding of biomolecular structures as DNA double strands or protein folds. After some theoretical considerations giving orders of magnitude about transport timescales through pores, forces involved in unzipping processes … we present our experiments on DNA unzipping or protein unfolding using a nanopore. We point out the difficulties that can be encountered during these experiments, such as the signal analysis problems, noise issues, or experimental limitations of such system.

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2012 – Effects of the Antitussive Drug Cloperastine on Ventricular Repolarization in Halothane-Anesthetized Guinea Pigs
Port-a-Patch Publication in Journal of Pharmacologigal Sciences (2012) Authors: Takahara A., Fujiwara K., Ohtsuki A., Oka T., Namekata I., Tanaka H.

Cloperastine is an antitussive drug, which can be received as an over-the-counter cold medicine. The chemical structure of cloperastine is quite similar to that of the antihistamine drug diphenhydramine, which is reported to inhibit hERG K+ channels and clinically induce long QT syndrome after overdose. To analyze its proarrhythmic potential, we compared effects of cloperastine and diphenhydramine on the hERG K+ channels expressed in HEK293 cells. We further assessed their effects on the halothane-anesthetized guinea-pig heart under the monitoring of monophasic action potential (MAP) of the ventricle. Cloperastine inhibited the hERG K+ currents in a concentration-dependent manner with an IC50 value of 0.027 μM, whose potency was 100 times greater than that of diphenhydramine (IC50; 2.7 μM). In the anesthetized guinea pigs, cloperastine at a therapeutic dose of 1 mg/kg prolonged the QT interval and MAP duration without affecting PR interval or QRS width. Diphenhydramine at a therapeutic dose of 10 mg/kg prolonged the QT interval and MAP duration together with increase in PR interval and QRS width. The present results suggest that cloperastine may be categorized as a QT-prolonging drug that possibly induces arrhythmia at overdoses like diphenhydramine does.

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2012 – Green Fluorescent Protein Changes the Conductance of Connexin 43 (Cx43) Hemichannels Reconstituted in Planar Lipid Bilayer
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in The Journal of Biological Chemistry (2012) Authors: Carnarius C., Kreir M., Krick M., Methfessel C., Moehrle V., Valerius O., Brüggemann A., Steinem C., Fertig N.

In mammalian tissues, connexin 43 (Cx43) is the most prominent member of the connexin family. In a single lipid bilayer, six connexin subunits assemble into a hemichannel (connexon). Direct communication of apposing cells is realized by two adjacent hemichannels, which can form gap junction channels. Here, we established an expression system in Pichia pastoris to recombinantly produce and purify Cx43 as well as Cx43 fused to green fluorescent protein (GFP). Proteins were isolated from crude cell membrane fractions via affinity chromatography. Cx43 and Cx43-GFP hemichannels were reconstituted in giant unilamellar vesicles as proven by fluorescence microscopy, and their electrophysiological behavior was analyzed on the single channel level by planar patch clamping. Cx43 and Cx43-GFP both showed an ohmic behavior and a voltage-dependent open probability. Cx43 hemichannels exhibited one major mean conductance of 224 ± 26 picosiemens (pS). In addition, a subconductance state at 124 ± 5 pS was identified. In contrast, the analysis of Cx43-GFP single channels revealed 10 distinct conductance states in the range of 15 to 250 pS, with a larger open probability at 0 mV as compared with Cx43, which suggests that intermolecular interactions between the GFP molecules alter the electrophysiology of the protein.

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2012 – HTS techniques for patch clamp-based ion channel screening – economy and advances
Port-a-Patch, Patchliner and SyncroPatch 96 (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384PE) Publication in Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery (2012) Authors: Farre C. and Fertig N.

Introduction: Ten years ago, the first publication appeared showing patch clamp recordings performed on a planar glass chip instead of using a conventional patch clamp pipette. “Going planar” proved to revolutionize ion channel drug screening as we know it, by allowing high quality measurements of ion channels and their effectors at a higher throughput and at the same time de-skilling the highly laborious technique. Over the years, platforms evolved in response to user requirements regarding experimental features, data handling plus storage, and suitable target diversity. Areas covered: This article gives a snapshot image of patch clamp-based ion channel screening with focus on platforms developed to meet requirements of high-throughput screening environments. The commercially available platforms are described, along with their benefits and drawbacks in ion channel drug screening. Expert opinion: Automated patch clamp (APC) platforms allow faster investigation of a larger number of ion channel active compounds or cell clones than previously possible. Since patch clamp is the only method allowing direct, real-time measurements of ion channel activity, APC holds the promise of picking up high quality leads, where they otherwise would have been overseen using indirect methods. In addition, drug candidate safety profiling can be performed earlier in the drug discovery process, avoiding late-phase compound withdrawal due to safety liability issues, which is highly costly and inefficient.

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2012 – Hydrophobic gating of mechanosensitive channel of large conductance evidenced by single-subunit resolution
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2012) Authors: Birkner JP, Poolman B, Koçer A.

Mechanosensitive (MS) ion channels are membrane proteins that detect and respond to membrane tension in all branches of life. In bacteria, MS channels prevent cells from lysing upon sudden hypoosmotic shock by opening and releasing solutes and water. Despite the importance of MS channels and ongoing efforts to explain their functioning, the molecular mechanism of MS channel gating remains elusive and controversial. Here we report a method that allows single-subunit resolution for manipulating and monitoring “mechanosensitive channel of large conductance” from Escherichia coli. We gradually changed the hydrophobicity of the pore constriction in this homopentameric protein by modifying a critical pore residue one subunit at a time. Our experimental results suggest that both channel opening and closing are initiated by the transmembrane 1 helix of a single subunit and that the participation of each of the five identical subunits in the structural transitions between the closed and open states is asymmetrical. Such a minimal change in the pore environment seems ideal for a fast and energy-efficient response to changes in the membrane tension.

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2012 – Insulin-secreting INS-1E cells express functional TRPV1 channels
Port-a-Patch Publication in Islets (2012) Authors: Fågelskiöld A.J., Kannisto K., Boström A., Hadrovic B., Farre C., Eweida M., Wester K., Islam MD.S.

We have studied whether functional TRPV1 channels exist in the INS-1E cells, a cell type used as a model for β-cells, and in primary β-cells from rat and human. The effects of the TRPV1 agonists capsaicin and AM404 on the intracellular free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) in the INS-1E cells were studied by fura-2 based microfluorometry. Capsaicin increased [Ca2+]i in a concentration-dependent manner, and the [Ca2+]i increase was dependent on extracellular Ca2+. AM404 also increased [Ca2+]i in the INS-1E cells. Capsazepine, a specific antagonist of TRPV1, completely blocked the capsaicin- and AM404-induced [Ca2+]i increases. Capsaicin did not increase [Ca2+]i in the primary β-cells from rat and human. Whole cell patch clamp configuration was used to record currents across the plasma membrane in the INS-1E cells. Capsaicin elicited inward currents that were inhibited by capsazepine. Western blot analysis detected TRPV1 proteins in the INS-1E cells and the human islets. Immunohistochemistry was used to study the expression of TRPV1, but no TRPV1 protein immunoreactivity was detected in the human islet cells and the human insulinoma cells. We conclude that the INS-1E cells, but not the primary β-cells, express functional TRPV1 channels.

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2012 – Interleukin-1R3 mediates interleukin-1–induced potassium current increase through fast activation of Akt kinase
Port-a-Patch Publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the Unites States of America (2012) Authors: Qian J., Zhu L., Li Q., Belevych N., Chen Q., Zhao F., Herness S., Quan N.

Inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1) performs multiple functions in the central nervous system. The type 1 IL-1 receptor (IL-1R1) and the IL-1 receptor accessory protein (IL-1RAcP) form a functional IL-1 receptor complex that is thought to mediate most, if not all, IL-1–induced effects. Several recent studies, however, suggest the existence of a heretofore-unidentified receptor for IL-1. In this study, we report that the IL-1R1 gene contains an internal promoter that drives the transcription of a shortened IL-1R1 mRNA. This mRNA is the template for a unique IL-1R protein that is identical to IL-1R1 at the C terminus, but with a shorter extracellular domain at the N terminus. We have termed this molecule IL-1R3. The mRNA and protein for IL-1R3 are expressed in normal and two strains of commercially available IL-1R1 knockout mice. Western blot analysis shows IL-1R3 is preferentially expressed in neural tissues. Furthermore, IL-1β binds specifically to IL-1R3 when it is complexed with the newly discovered alternative IL-1 receptor accessory protein, IL-1RAcPb. Stimulation of neurons expressing both IL-1R3 and IL-1RAcPb with IL-1β causes fast activation of the Akt kinase, which leads to an increase in voltage-gated potassium current. These results demonstrate that IL-1R3/IL-1RAcPb complex mediates a unique subset of IL-1 activity that accounts for many previously unexplained IL-1 effects in the central nervous system.

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2012 – Investigation of the sodium-binding sites in the sodium-coupled betaine transporter BetP
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in PNAS (2012) Authors: Khafizov K., Perez C., Koshy C., Quick M., Fendler K., Ziegler C., Forrest L.R.

Sodium-coupled substrate transport plays a central role in many biological processes. However, despite knowledge of the structures of several sodium-coupled transporters, the location of the sodium-binding site(s) often remains unclear. Several of these structures have the five transmembrane-helix inverted-topology repeat, LeuT-like (FIRL) fold, whose pseudosymmetry has been proposed to facilitate the alternating-access mechanism required for transport. Here, we provide biophysical, biochemical, and computational evidence for the location of the two cation-binding sites in the sodium-coupled betaine symporter BetP. A recent X-ray structure of BetP in a sodium-bound closed state revealed that one of these sites, equivalent to the Na2 site in related transporters, is located between transmembrane helices 1 and 8 of the FIRL-fold; here, we confirm the location of this site by other means. Based on the pseudosymmetry of this fold, we hypothesized that the second site is located between the equivalent helices 6 and 3. Molecular dynamics simulations of the closed-state structure suggest this second sodium site involves two threonine sidechains and a backbone carbonyl from helix 3, a phenylalanine from helix 6, and a water molecule. Mutating the residues proposed to form the two binding sites increased the apparent Km and Kd for sodium, as measured by betaine uptake, tryptophan fluorescence, and 22Na+ binding, and also diminished the transient currents measured in proteoliposomes using solid supported membrane-based electrophysiology. Taken together, these results provide strong evidence for the identity of the residues forming the sodium-binding sites in BetP.

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2012 – Isolation, characterization and total regioselective synthesis of the novel μO-conotoxin MfVIA from Conus magnificus that targets voltage-gated sodium channels
Port-a-Patch Publication in Biochemical Pharmacology (2012) Authors: Vetter I., Dekan Z., Knapp O., Adams D.J., Alewood P.F., Lewis R.J.

The μO-conotoxins are notable for their unique selectivity for NaV1.8 over other sodium channel isoforms, making them attractive drug leads for the treatment of neuropathic pain. We describe the discovery of a novel μO-conotoxin, MfVIA, from the venom of Conus magnificus using high-throughput screening approaches. MfVIA was found to be a hydrophobic 32-residue peptide (amino acid sequence RDCQEKWEYCIVPILGFVYCCPGLICGPFVCV) with highest sequence homology to μO-conotoxin MrVIB. To overcome the synthetic challenges posed by μO-conotoxins due to their hydrophobic nature and difficult folding, we developed a novel regioselective approach for the synthesis of μO-conotoxins. Performing selective oxidative deprotections of the cysteine side-chain protecting groups of the fully protected peptide allowed manipulations in organic solvents with no chromatography required between steps. Using this approach, we obtained correctly folded MfVIA with increased synthetic yields. Biological activity of MfVIA was assessed using membrane potential-sensitive dyes and electrophysiological recording techniques. MfVIA preferentially inhibits NaV1.8 (IC50 95.9 ± 74.3 nM) and NaV1.4 (IC50 81 ± 16 nM), with significantly lower affinity for other NaV subtypes (IC50 431–6203 nM; NaV1.5 > 1.6 ∼ 1.7 ∼ 1.3 ∼ 1.1 ∼ 1.2). This improved approach to μO-conotoxin synthesis will facilitate the optimization of μO-conotoxins as novel analgesic molecules to improve pain management.

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2012 – Natural and artificial ion channels for biosensing platforms
Port-a-Patch, Patchliner, SyncroPatch 96 ((a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384PE) and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (2012) Authors: Steller L., Kreir M., Salzer R.

The single-molecule selectivity and specificity of the binding process together with the expected intrinsic gain factor obtained when utilizing flow through a channel have attracted the attention of analytical chemists for two decades. Sensitive and selective ion channel biosensors for high-throughput screening are having an increasing impact on modern medical care, drug screening, environmental monitoring, food safety, and biowarefare control. Even virus antigens can be detected by ion channel biosensors. The study of ion channels and other transmembrane proteins is expected to lead to the development of new medications and therapies for a wide range of illnesses. From the first attempts to use membrane proteins as the receptive part of a sensor, ion channels have been engineered as chemical sensors. Several other types of peptidic or nonpeptidic channels have been investigated. Various gating mechanisms have been implemented in their pores. Three technical problems had to be solved to achieve practical biosensors based on ion channels: the fabrication of stable lipid bilayer membranes, the incorporation of a receptor into such a structure, and the marriage of the modified membrane to a transducer. The current status of these three areas of research, together with typical applications of ion-channel biosensors, are discussed in this review.

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2012 – Observation of Antinociceptive Effects of Oxymatrine and its Effect on Delayed Rectifier K+ Currents (Ik) in PC12 Cells
Patchliner Publication in Neurochemical Research (2012) Authors: Wang Y., Yuan J., Yuan X., Wang W., Pei X., Zhao Q., Cao H., Xu M., Liu Z.

In order to observe antinociceptive effect of Oxymatrine (OMT) and its effect on voltage-activated K+ channel, the acetic acid-induced abdominal contraction model of mouse was used to test the antinociceptive effect in vivo, and in vitro, the delayed rectifier K+ currents (Ik) in PC12 cells (rat pheochromocytoma cells) was recorded using the automated patch-clamp method. The results indicated that after application of OMT, the number of acetic acid-induced animal abdominal contraction was significantly decreased, Ik in PC12 cells was significantly decreased, and showed a concentration-dependent manner. After application of OMT, both the activation and inactivation curves of Ik of PC12 cells were shifted to negative potentials. This study revealed that OMT showed antinociceptive effect in mice. The inhibition of voltage-activated K+ channel might be one of mechanisms in which the enhanced both activation and inactivation of K+ channel were involved and might play important roles.

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2012 – Regulation of Hyperpolarization-activated Cyclic Nucleotide-gated (HCN) Channel Activity by cCMP
Port-a-Patch Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2012) Authors: Zong X., Krause S., Chen C.C., Krüger J., Gruner C., Cao-Ehlker X., Fenske S., Wahl-Schott C., Biel M.

Activation of hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels is facilitated in vivo by direct binding of the second messenger cAMP. This process plays a fundamental role in the fine-tuning of HCN channel activity and is critical for the modulation of cardiac and neuronal rhythmicity. Here, we identify the pyrimidine cyclic nucleotide cCMP as another regulator of HCN channels. We demonstrate that cCMP shifts the activation curves of two members of the HCN channel family, HCN2 and HCN4, to more depolarized voltages. Moreover, cCMP speeds up activation and slows down deactivation kinetics of these channels. The two other members of the HCN channel family, HCN1 and HCN3, are not sensitive to cCMP. The modulatory effect of cCMP is reversible and requires the presence of a functional cyclic nucleotide-binding domain. We determined an EC50 value of ∼30 μm for cCMP compared with 1 μm for cAMP. Notably, cCMP is a partial agonist of HCN channels, displaying an efficacy of ∼0.6. cCMP increases the frequency of pacemaker potentials from isolated sinoatrial pacemaker cells in the presence of endogenous cAMP concentrations. Electrophysiological recordings indicated that this increase is caused by a depolarizing shift in the activation curve of the native HCN current, which in turn leads to an enhancement of the slope of the diastolic depolarization of sinoatrial node cells. In conclusion, our findings establish cCMP as a gating regulator of HCN channels and indicate that this cyclic nucleotide has to be considered in HCN channel-regulated processes.

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2012 – Selective modification of the N-Terminal structure of polytheonamide B significantly changes its cytotoxicity and activity as an ion channel
Port-a-Patch Publication in ChemMedChem (2012) Authors: Shinohara N., Itoh H., Matsuoka S., Inoue M.

Chemical point mutation: Polytheonamide B is a naturally occurring polypeptide containing 48 amino acids. It both displays potent cytotoxicity and acts as a monovalent cation channel in vitro. Chemoselective methods to modify the 44th, N-, and C-terminal residues of the natural product have been developed, and evaluation of the resultant derivatives suggests that the intrinsic activities of the peptide can only be altered by switching its N-terminal substitution.

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2012 – Synthesis and In Vitro Antibacterial Activity of Novel 3‐Azabicyclo [3.3. 0] octanyl Oxazolidinones
Patchliner Publication in Chemical Biology and Drug Design (2012) Authors: Bhattarai D., Lee S.H., Seo S.H., Nam G., Kang S.B., Pae A.N., Kim E.E., Oh T., Cho S.N., Keum G.

We synthesized a series of oxazolidinone-type antibacterials in which morpholine C-ring of linezolid has been modified by substituted 3-azabicyclo[3.3.0]octanyl rings. Acetamide or 1,2,3-triazole heterocycle was used as C-5 side chain of oxazolidinone. The resulting series of compounds was then screened in vitro against panel of susceptible and resistant Gram-positive, Gram-negative bacteria, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Several analogs in this series exhibited potent in vitro antibacterial activity comparable or superior to linezolid against the tested bacteria. Compounds 10a, 10b, 11a, and 15a displayed highly potent activity against M. tuberculosis. Selected compound 10b showed good human microsomal stability and CYP-profile, and showed low activity against hERG channel.

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2012 – Synthetic Lipid Membrane Channels Formed by Designed DNA Nanostructures
Orbit 16 Publication in Science (2012) Authors: Langecker M., ArnautV., Martin T.G., ListJ., RennerS., Mayer M., Dietz H., Simmel F.C.

We created nanometer-scale transmembrane channels in lipid bilayers using self-assembled DNA-based nanostructures. Scaffolded DNA origami was used to create a stem that penetrates and spans a lipid membrane, and a barrel-shaped cap that adheres to the membrane in part via 26 cholesterol moieties. In single-channel electrophysiological measurements, we find similarities to the response of natural ion channels, such as conductances on the order of 1 nS and channel gating. More pronounced gating was seen for mutations in which a single DNA strand of the stem protruded into the channel. In single-molecule translocation experiments, we highlight one of many potential applications of the synthetic channels, namely as single DNA molecule sensing devices.

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2012 – The nitrite transport protein NirC from Salmonella typhimurium is a nitrite/proton antiporter
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Biomembranes (2012) Authors: Rycovska A., Hatahet L., Fendler K., Michel H.

In anaerobically grown bacteria, transport of nitrite is catalyzed by an integral membrane protein of the form ate–nitrite transporter family, NirC, which in Salmonella typhimurium plays a critical role in intracellular virulence. We present a functional characterization of the S. typhimurium nitrite transporter StmNirC in native membrane vesicles as well as purified and reconstituted into proteoliposomes. Using an electrophysiological technique based on solid supported membranes, we show nitrite induced translocation of negative charges into proteoliposomes reconstituted with purified StmNirC. These data demonstrate the electrogenicity of StmNirC and its substrate specificity for nitrite. Monitoring changes in ΔpH on everted membrane vesicles containing overexpressed StmNirC using acridine orange as a pH indicator we demonstrate that StmNirC acts as a secondary active transporter. It promotes low affinity transport of nitrite coupled to H+ antiport with a pH independent profile in the pH range from 6 to 8. In addition to nitrite also nitrate is transported by StmNirC, but with reduced flux and complete absence of proton antiport activity. Taken together, these data suggest a bispecific anion selectivity of StmNirC with an ion specific transport mode. This may play a role in regulating nitrite transport under physiological conditions.

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2012 – Thermo-sensitive transient receptor potential vanilloid channel-1 regulates intracellular calcium and triggers chromogranin A secretion in pancreatic neuroendocrine BON-1 tumor cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Cellular Signalling (2012) Authors: Mergler S., Skrzypski M., Sassek M., Pietrzak P., Pucci C., Wiedenmann B., Strowski M.Z.

Transient receptor potential channels (TRPs) regulate tumor growth via calcium-dependent mechanisms. The (thermosensitive) capsaicin receptor TRPV1 is overexpressed in numerous highly aggressive cancers. TRPV1 has potent antiproliferative activity and is therefore potentially applicable in targeted therapy of malignancies. Recently, we characterized TRPM8 functions in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), however, the role of TRPV1 is unknown. Here, we studied the expression and the role of TRPV1 in regulating intracellular Ca2+ and chromogranin A (CgA) secretion in pancreatic NET BON-1 cell line and in primary NET cells (prNET). TRPV1 expression was detected by RT-PCR, Western blot and immunofluorescence. Intracellular free Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) was measured by fura-2; TRPV1 channel currents by the planar patch-clamp technique. Nonselective cation currents were analyzed by a color-coded plot method and CgA secretion by ELISA. Pancreatic BON-1 cells and NETs express TRPV1. Pharmacological blockade of TRPs by La3+ (100 μM) or by ruthenium-red (RuR) or by capsazepine (CPZ) (both at 10 μM) suppressed the capsaicin (CAP)- or heat-stimulated increase of [Ca2+]i in NET cells. CAP (20 μM) also increased nonselective cation channel currents in BON-1 cells. Furthermore, CAP (10 μM) stimulated CgA secretion, which was inhibited by CPZ or by RuR (both 10 μM). La3+ potently reduced both stimulated and the basal CgA secretion. Our study shows for the first time that TRPV1 is expressed in pancreatic NETs. Activation of TRPV1 translates into changes of intracellular Ca2+, a known mechanism triggering the secretion of CgA. The clinical relevance of TRPV1 activation in NETs requires further investigations.

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2012 – Toward a new gold standard for early safety: automated temperature-controlled hERG test on the Patchliner
Patchliner Publication in Frontiers in Pharmacology (2012) Authors: Polonchuk L.

The Patchliner temperature-controlled automated patch clamp system was evaluated for testing drug effects on potassium currents through human ether-à-go-go related gene (hERG) channels expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells at 35–37°C. IC50 values for a set of reference drugs were compared with those obtained using the conventional voltage clamp technique. The results showed good correlation between the data obtained using automated and conventional electrophysiology. Based on these results, the Patchliner represents an innovative automated electrophysiology platform for conducting the hERG assay that substantially increases throughput and has the advantage of operating at physiological temperature. It allows fast, accurate, and direct assessment of channel function to identify potential proarrhythmic side effects and sets a new standard in ion channel research for drug safety testing.

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2012 – TRPA1 Agonist Activity of Probenecid Desensitizes Channel Responses: Consequences for Screening
Patchliner Publication in ASSAY and Drug Development Technologies (2012) Authors: McClenaghan C., Zeng F., Verkuyl J.M.

The transient receptor potential channel subtype A member 1 (TRPA1) is a nonselective cation channel widely viewed as having therapeutic potential, particularly for pain-related indications. Realization of this potential will require potent, selective modulators; however, currently the pharmacology of TRPA1 is poorly defined. As TRPA1 is calcium permeable, calcium indicators offer a simple assay format for high-throughput screening. In this report, we show that probenecid, a uricosuric agent used experimentally in screening to increase loading of calcium-sensitive dyes, activates TRPA1. Prolonged probenecid incubation during the dye-loading process reduces agonist potency upon subsequent challenge. When Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO)-hTRPA1 or STC-1 cells, which endogenously express TRPA1, were dye loaded in the presence of 2 mM probenecid TRPA1, agonists appeared less potent; EC(50) for allyl isothiocyante agonists in CHO-hTRPA1 was increased from 1.5±0.19 to 7.32±1.20 μM (P0.01). No significant effect on antagonist potency was observed when using the agonist EC(80) concentration determined under the appropriate dye-loading conditions. We suggest an alternative protocol for calcium imaging using another blocker of anion transport, sulfinpyrazone. This blocker significantly augments indicator dye loading and the screening window, but is not a TRPA1 agonist and has no effect on agonist potency.

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2013 – A Potent and Selective Peptide Blocker of the KV1.3 Channel: Prediction from Free-Energy Simulations and Experimental Confirmation
Port-a-Patch Publication in PLoS ONE (2013) Authors: Rashid M.H., Heinzelmann G., Huq R., Tajhya R.B., Chang S.C., Chhabra S., Pennington M.W., Beeton C., Norton R.S., Kuyucak S.

The voltage-gated potassium channel KV1.3 is a well-established target for treatment of autoimmune diseases. ShK peptide from a sea anemone is one of the most potent blockers of KV1.3 but its application as a therapeutic agent for autoimmune diseases is limited by its lack of selectivity against other KV channels, in particular KV1.1. Accurate models of KV1.x-ShK complexes suggest that specific charge mutations on ShK could considerably enhance its specificity for KV1.3. Here we evaluate the K18A mutation on ShK, and calculate the change in binding free energy associated with this mutation using the path-independent free energy perturbation and thermodynamic integration methods, with a novel implementation that avoids convergence problems. To check the accuracy of the results, the binding free energy differences were also determined from path-dependent potential of mean force calculations. The two methods yield consistent results for the K18A mutation in ShK and predict a 2 kcal/mol gain in KV1.3/KV1.1 selectivity free energy relative to wild-type peptide. Functional assays confirm the predicted selectivity gain for ShK[K18A] and suggest that it will be a valuable lead in the development of therapeutics for autoimmune diseases.

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2013 – Automated Planar Patch Clamp
Patchliner book chapter in Ion Channels (2013) Authors: Milligan, C. J., Möller, C.

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); Dyna flow ®  HT (Cellectricon AB, Mölndal), 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.

2013 – Cannabinoid receptor 1 suppresses transient receptor potential vanilloid 1-induced inflammatory responses to corneal injury
Port-a-Patch Publication in Cellular Signalling (2013) Authors: Yang Y, Yang H, Wang Z, Varadaraj K, Kumari SS, Mergler S, Okada Y, Saika S, Kingsley PJ, Marnett LJ, Reinach PS.

Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1)-induced suppression of transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) activation provides a therapeutic option to reduce inflammation and pain in different animal disease models through mechanisms involving dampening of TRPV1 activation and signaling events. As we found in both mouse corneal epithelium and human corneal epithelial cells (HCEC) that there is CB1 and TRPV1 expression colocalization based on overlap of coimmunostaining, we determined in mouse corneal wound healing models and in human corneal epithelial cells (HCEC) if they interact with one another to reduce TRPV1-induced inflammatory and scarring responses. Corneal epithelial debridement elicited in vivo a more rapid wound healing response in wildtype (WT) than in CB1(-/-) mice suggesting functional interaction between CB1 and TRPV1. CB1 activation by injury is tenable based on the identification in mouse corneas of 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) with tandem LC-MS/MS, a selective endocannabinoid CB1 ligand. Suppression of corneal TRPV1 activation by CB1 is indicated since following alkali burning, CB1 activation with WIN55,212-2 (WIN) reduced immune cell stromal infiltration and scarring. Western blot analysis of coimmunoprecipitates identified protein-protein interaction between CB1 and TRPV1. Other immunocomplexes were also identified containing transforming growth factor kinase 1 (TAK1), TRPV1 and CB1. CB1 siRNA gene silencing prevented suppression by WIN of TRPV1-induced TAK1-JNK1 signaling. WIN reduced TRPV1-induced Ca(2+) transients in fura2-loaded HCEC whereas pertussis toxin (PTX) preincubation obviated suppression by WIN of such rises caused by capsaicin (CAP). Whole cell patch clamp analysis of HCEC showed that WIN blocked subsequent CAP-induced increases in nonselective outward currents. Taken together, CB1 activation by injury-induced release of endocannabinoids such as 2-AG downregulates TRPV1 mediated inflammation and corneal opacification. Such suppression occurs through protein-protein interaction between TRPV1 and CB1 leading to declines in TRPV1 phosphorylation status. CB1 activation of the GTP binding protein, G(i/o) contributes to CB1 mediated TRPV1 dephosphorylation leading to TRPV1 desensitization, declines in TRPV1-induced increases in currents and pro-inflammatory signaling events.

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2013 – Crystal structure and functional mechanism of a human antimicrobial membrane channel
Port-a-Patch Publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2013) Authors: Songa C., Weichbrodt C., Salnikov E.S., Dynowski M.,Forsberg B.O., Bechinger B., Steinem C., de Groot B.L., Zachariae U. and Zeth K.

Multicellular organisms fight bacterial and fungal infections by producing peptide-derived broad-spectrum antibiotics. These host-defense peptides compromise the integrity of microbial cell membranes and thus evade pathways by which bacteria develop rapid antibiotic resistance. Although more than 1,700 host-defense peptides have been identified, the structural and mechanistic basis of their action remains speculative. This impedes the desired rational development of these agents into next-generation antibiotics. We present the X-ray crystal structure as well as solid-state NMR spectroscopy, electrophysiology, and MD simulations of human dermcidin in membranes that reveal the antibiotic mechanism of this major human antimicrobial, found to suppress Staphylococcus aureus growth on the epidermal surface. Dermcidin forms an architecture of high-conductance transmembrane channels, composed of zinc-connected trimers of antiparallel helix pairs. Molecular dynamics simulations elucidate the unusual membrane permeation pathway for ions and show adjustment of the pore to various membranes. Our study unravels the comprehensive mechanism for the membrane-disruptive action of this mammalian host-defense peptide at atomistic level. The results may form a foundation for the structure-based design of peptide antibiotics.

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2013 – Differential Effects of Mutations on the Transport Properties of the Na+/H+ Antiporter NhaA from Escherichia coli
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2013) Authors: Mager T., Braner M., Kubsch B., Hatahet L., Alkoby D., Rimon A., Padan E., Fendler K.

Na+/H+ antiporters show a marked pH dependence, which is important for their physiological function in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. In NhaA, the Escherichia coli Na+/H+ antiporter, specific single site mutations modulating the pH profile of the transporter have been described in the past. To clarify the mechanism by which these mutations influence the pH dependence of NhaA, the substrate dependence of the kinetics of selected NhaA variants was electrophysiologically investigated and analyzed with a kinetic model. It is shown that the mutations affect NhaA activity in quite different ways by changing the properties of the binding site or the dynamics of the transporter. In the first case, pK and/or KDNa are altered, and in the second case, the rate constants of the conformational transition between the inside and the outside open conformation are modified. It is shown that residues as far apart as 15–20 Å from the binding site can have a significant impact on the dynamics of the conformational transitions or on the binding properties of NhaA. The implications of these results for the pH regulation mechanism of NhaA are discussed.

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2013 – Differential Effects of the β‐Adrenoceptor Blockers Carvedilol and Metoprolol on SQT1‐ and SQT2‐Mutant Channels
Port-a-Patch Publication in Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology (2013) Authors: Bodi I., Franke G., Pantulu N.D., Wu K., Perez-Feliz S., Bode C., Zehender M., Zur Hausen A., Brunner M., Odening K.

Background: N588K-KCNH2 and V307L-KCNQ1 mutations lead to a gain-of-function of IKr and IKs thus causing short-QT syndromes (SQT1, SQT2). Combined pharmacotherapies using K+-channel-blockers and β-blockers are effective in SQTS. Since β-blockers can block IKr and IKs, we aimed at determining carvedilol's and metoprolol's electrophysiological effects on N588K-KCNH2 and V307L-KCNQ1 channels. Methods Wild-type (WT)-KCNH2, WT-KCNQ1 and mutant N588K-KCNH2 and V307L-KCNQ1 channels were expressed in CHO-K1 or HEK-293T cells and IKs and IKr were recorded at baseline and during β-blocker exposure. Results Carvedilol (10 μM) reduced IKs tail in WT- and V307L-KCNQ1 by 36.5 ± 5% and 18.6 ± 9% (P 0.05). IC50 values were 16.3 μM (WT) and 46.1 μM (V307L), indicating a 2.8-fold decrease in carvedilol's IKs-blocking potency in V307L-KCNQ1. Carvedilol's (1 μM) inhibition of the IKr tail was attenuated in N588K-KCNH2 (4.5 ± 3% vs 50.3 ± 4%, WT, P 0.001) with IC50 values of 2.8 μM (WT) and 25.4 μM (N588K). Carvedilol's IKr end-pulse inhibition, however, was increased in N588K-KCNH2 (10 μM, 60.7 ± 6% vs 36.5 ± 5%, WT, P 0.01).Metoprolol (100 μM) reduced IKr end-pulse by 0.23 ± 3% (WT) and 74.1 ± 7% (N588K, P 0.05), IKr tail by 32.9 ± 10% (WT) and 68.8 ± 7% (N588K, P 0.05), and reduced IKs end-pulse by 18.3 ± 5% (WT) and 57.1 ± 11% (V307L, P 0.05) and IKs tail by 3.3 ± 1% (WT) and 45.1 ± 13 % (V307L, P 0.05), indicating an increased sensitivity to metoprolol in SQT mutated channels. Conclusions N588K-KCNH2 and V307L-KCNQ1 mutations decrease carvedilol's inhibition of the IKs or IKr tail but increase carvedilol's IKr end-pulse inhibition and metoprolol's inhibition of tail and end-pulse currents. These different effects on SQT1 and SQT2 mutated channels should be considered when using β-blocker therapy in SQTS patients.

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2013 – Effect of flavonoids on the phase separation in giant unilamellar vesicles formed from binary lipid mixtures
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Chemistry and Physics of Lipids (2013) Authors: Ostroumova O.S., Chulkov E.G., Stepanenko O.V., Schagina L.V.

Confocal fluorescence microscopy have been employed to investigate phase separation in giant unilamellar vesicles prepared from binary mixtures of unsaturated dioleoylphosphocholine with saturated phosphocholines or brain sphingomyelin in the absence and presence of the flavonoids, biochanin A, phloretin, and myricetin. It has been demonstrated that biochanin A and phloretin make uncolored domains more circular or eliminate visible phase separation in liposomes while myricetin remains the irregular shape of fluorescence probe-excluding domains. Influence of the flavonoids on the endotherms of liposome suspension composed of dioleoylphosphocholine and dimyristoylphosphocholine was investigated by the differential scanning calorimetry. Calorimetry data do not contradict to confocal imaging results.

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2013 – Electrophysiological characterization of uncoupled mutants of LacY
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biochemistry (2013) Authors: Gaiko O., Bazzone A., Fendler K., Kaback H.R.

In this study of the lactose permease of Escherichia coli (LacY), five functionally irreplaceable residues involved specifically in H+ translocation (Arg302 and Glu325) or in the coupling between protonation and sugar binding (Tyr236, Glu269, and His322) were mutated individually or together with mutant Glu325 → Ala. The wild type and each mutant were purified and reconstituted into proteoliposomes, which were then examined using solid-supported-membrane-based electrophysiology. Mutants Glu325 → Ala or Arg302 → Ala, in which H+ symport is abolished, exhibit a weakly electrogenic rapid reaction triggered by sugar binding. The reaction is essentially absent in mutant Tyr236 → Phe, Glu269 → Ala, and His322 → Ala, and each of these mutations blocks the electrogenic reaction observed in the Glu325 → Ala mutant. The findings are consistent with the interpretation that the electrogenic reaction induced by sugar binding is due to rearrangement of charged residues in LacY and that this reaction is blocked by mutation of each member of the Tyr236/Glu269/His322 triad. In addition, further support is provided for the conclusion that deprotonation is rate limiting for downhill lactose/H+ symport.

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2013 – Enhanced adsorption of Ca-ATPase containing vesicles on a negatively charged solid supported membrane for the investigation of membrane transporters
SURFE2R N1 Publication in Langmuir (2013) Authors: Sacconi A., Moncelli M.R., Mergheri G., Tadini-Buoninsegni F.

A convenient model system for a biological membrane is a solid-supported membrane (SSM), which consists of a gold-supported alkanethiol|phospholipid bilayer. In combination with a concentration jump method, SSMs have been used for the investigation of several membrane transporters. Vesicles incorporating sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca-ATPase (SERCA) were adsorbed on a negatively charged SSM (octadecanethiol|phosphatidylserine bilayer). The current signal generated by the adsorbed vesicles following an ATP concentration jump was compared to that produced by SERCA-containing vesicles adsorbed on a conventional SSM (octadecanethiol|phosphatidylcholine bilayer). A significantly higher current amplitude was recorded on the serine-based SSM. The adsorption of SERCA-incorporating vesicles on the SSM was then characterized by surface plasmon resonance (SPR). The SPR measurements clearly indicate that in the presence of Ca2+ and Mg2+, the amount of adsorbed vesicles on the serine-based SSM is about twice that obtained using the conventional SSM, thereby demonstrating that the higher current amplitude recorded on the negatively charged SSM is correlated with a greater quantity of adsorbed vesicles. The enhanced adsorption of membrane vesicles on the PS-based SSM may be useful to study membrane preparations with a low concentration of transport protein generating small current signals, as in the case of various recombinantly expressed proteins.

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2013 – Establishment of a Secondary Screening Assay for P/Q-Type Calcium Channel Blockers
Patchliner Publication in Combinatorial Chemistry & High Throughput Screening (2013) Authors: Hermann D., Mezler M., Swensen A., Bruehl C., Obergrußberger A., Wicke K., Schoemaker H., Gross G., Draguhn A., Nimmrich V.

Development of calcium channel blockers is attractive, but has in the past been hampered by lack of high throughput electrophysiological technology. This limitation has been overcome by the implementation of automated patch clamp systems that allow identification of state-dependent compounds, which preferentially target pathologically overactive channels.We recently presented a fluorescence-based high-throughput screen for P/Q-type calcium channels followed by automated electrophysiology. Here, we provide a detailed description of the development of the secondary screen, and show the full analysis of the inactivation kinetics of the recombinant P/Q channel that served as a basis for the automated patch clamp protocol. Increasing the length of pre-depolarization shifted the inactivation to more hyperpolarized potentials. No steadystate inactivation was reached up to pre-depolarization durations of 3 min, while stability of the recordings progressively declined. As a compromise, a 3s pre-depolarization protocol was proposed for functional screening. In order to validate the electrophysiological screening, we compared kinetics and pharmacology of recombinant P/Q-type channels between automated and manual patch clamp measurements. Channel activation was similar under both conditions. By contrast, inactivation occurred at more hyperpolarized potentials in the automated system. Therefore, P/Q-type calcium channel inactivation is sensitive to the applied technological platform and needs to be adjusted when performing automated patch clamp recordings.Our results indicate that a thorough analysis of the inactivation kinetics is mandatory, when establishing an electrophysiological screening protocol for calcium channel blockers. As some data obtained by automated recordings may not be identical to manual patch clamp analysis, we recommend a proper initial validation of the screening assay and – if necessary – a posthoc adjustment of automated patch clamp values. The protocol presented here supports hit-to-lead and lead optimization efforts during the development of novel P/Q-type calcium channel blockers, and may be valuable for the generation of assays in other ion channel programs

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2013 – Functional characterization of a ClC transporter by solid-supported membrane electrophysiology
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Journal of General Physiology (2013) Authors: Garcia-Celma J., Szydelko A., Dutzler R.

EcClC, a prokaryotic member of the ClC family of chloride channels and transporters, works as coupled H+/Cl- exchanger. With a known structure and the possibility of investigating its behavior with different biochemical and biophysical techniques, the protein has become an important model system for the family. Although many aspects of its function have been previously characterized, it was difficult to measure transport on the same sample under different environmental conditions. To overcome this experimental limitation, we have studied EcClC by solid-supported membrane electrophysiology. The large transport-related transient currents and a simple way of relating transport rates to the measured signal have allowed a thorough investigation of ion selectivity, inhibition, and the dependence of transport on changes in ion concentration and pH. Our results confirm that the protein transports larger anions with about similar rates, whereas the smaller fluoride is not a substrate. We also show that 4,4'-diisothiocyano-2,2'-stilbenedisulfonic acid (DIDS), a known inhibitor of other anion transport protein, irreversibly inhibits EcClC from the intracellular side. The chloride dependence shows an apparent saturation at millimolar concentrations that resembles a similar behavior in eukaryotic ClC channels. Our experiments have also allowed us to quantify the pH dependence of transport. EcClC shows a strong activation at low pH with an apparent pKa of 4.6. The pronounced pH dependence is lost by the mutation of a conserved glutamate facing the extracellular solution that was previously shown to be an acceptor for transported protons, whereas it is largely retained by the mutation of an equivalent residue at the intracellular side. Our results have provided a quantitative basis for the transport behavior of EcClC, and they will serve as a reference for future investigations of novel electrogenic transporters with still-uncharacterized properties.

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2013 – Functional significance of thermosensitive transient receptor potential melastatin channel 8 (TRPM8) expression in immortalized human corneal endothelial cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Experimental Eye Research (2013) Authors: Mergler S., Mertens C., Valtink M., Reinach P.S., Castelo Székely V., Slavi N., Abdelmessih S., Türker E., Fels G., Pleyer U.

Human corneal endothelial cells (HCEC) maintain appropriate tissue hydration and transparency by eliciting net ion transport coupled to fluid egress from the stroma into the anterior chamber. Such activity offsets tissue swelling caused by stromal imbibition of fluid. As corneal endothelial (HCE) transport function is modulated by temperature changes, we probed for thermosensitive transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) functional activity in immortalized human corneal endothelial cells (HCEC-12) and freshly isolated human corneal endothelial cells (HCEC) as a control. This channel is either activated upon lowering to 28 °C or by menthol, eucalyptol and icilin. RT-PCR and quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) verified TRPM8 gene expression. Ca2+ transients induced by either menthol (500 μmol/l), eucalyptol (3 mmol/l), or icilin (2–60 μmol/l) were identified using cell fluorescence imaging. The TRP channel blocker lanthanum III chloride (La3+, 100 μmol/l) as well as the TRPM8 blockers BCTC (10 μmol/l) and capsazepine (CPZ, 10 μmol/l) suppressed icilin-induced Ca2+ increases. In and outward currents induced by application of menthol (500 μmol/l) or icilin (50 μmol/l) were detected using the planar patch-clamp technique. A thermal transition from room temperature to ≈ 18 °C led to Ca2+ increases that were inhibited by a TRPM8 blocker BCTC (10 μmol/l). Other thermosensitive TRP pathways whose heterogeneous Ca2+ response patterns are suggestive of other Ca2+ handling pathways were also detected upon strong cooling (≈10 °C). Taken together, functional TRPM8 expression in HCEC-12 and freshly dissociated HCEC suggests that HCE function can adapt to thermal variations through activation of this channel subtype.

2013 – Functional TRPV1 expression in human corneal fibroblasts
Port-a-Patch Publication in Experimental Eye Research (2013) Authors: Yang Y, Yang H, Wang Z, Mergler S, Wolosin JM, Reinach PS.

Corneal wound healing in mice subsequent to an alkali burn results in dysregulated inflammation and opacification. Transient receptor potential vanilloid subtype 1 (TRPV1) channel activation in all tissue layers by endogenous ligands contributes to this sight compromising outcome since in TRPV1 knockout mice wound healing results instead in tissue transparency restoration. However, it is not known if primary human stromal fibroblasts exhibit such expression even though functional TRPV1 expression is evident in an immortalized human corneal epithelial cell line. In primary human corneal fibroblasts (HCF), TRPV1 gene expression and localization were identified based on the results of quantitative RT-PCR and immunocytochemistry, respectively. Western blot analysis identified a 100 kD protein corresponding to TRPV1 protein expression in a positive control. Single-cell fluorescence imaging detected in fura2-AM loaded cells Ca(2+) transients that rose 1.8-fold above the baseline induced by a selective TRPV1 agonist, capsaicin (CAP), which were blocked by a TRPV1 antagonist, capsazepine (CPZ) or exposure to a Ca(2+) free medium. The whole-cell mode of the planar patch-clamp technique identified TRPV1-induced currents that rose 1.76-fold between -60 and +130 mV. CAP-induced time dependent changes in the phosphorylation status of mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling mediators that led to a 2.5-fold increase in IL-6 release after 24 h. This rise did not occur either in TRPV1 siRNA gene silenced cells or during exposure to SB203580 (10 μM), a selective p38 MAPK inhibitor. Taken together, identification of functional TRPV1 expression in HCF suggests that in vivo its activation by injury contributes to corneal opacification and inflammation during wound healing. These undesirable effects may result in part from increases in IL-6 expression mediated by p-p38 MAPK signaling.

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2013 – Lipid-Bilayer-Spanning DNA Nanopores with a Bifunctional Porphyrin Anchor
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2013) Authors: Burns J.R., Göpfrich K., Wood J.W.,Thacker V.V.,Stulz E., Keyser U.F., Howorka S.

An artificial membrane nanopore assembled from DNA oligonucleotides carries porphyrin tags, which anchor the nanostructure into the lipid bilayer. The porphyrin moieties also act as fluorescent dyes to aid the microscopic visualization of the DNA nanopore.

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2013 – Measuring Interference of Drug-Like Molecules with the Respiratory Chain: Toward the Early Identification of Mitochondrial Uncouplers in Lead Finding
SURFE2R N96 (predecessor model of SURFE2R 96SE) Publication in Assay and Drug Development Technologies (2013) Authors: Stock U., Matter H., Diekert K., Dörner W., Dröse S., Licher T.

The electron transport chain (ETC) couples electron transfer between donors and acceptors with proton transport across the inner mitochondrial membrane. The resulting electrochemical proton gradient is used to generate chemical energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Proton transfer is based on the activity of complex I–V proteins in the ETC. The overall electrical activity of these proteins can be measured by proton transfer using Solid Supported Membrane technology. We tested the activity of complexes I, III, and V in a combined assay, called oxidative phosphorylation assay (oxphos assay), by activating each complex with the corresponding substrate. The oxphos assay was used to test in-house substances from different projects and several drugs currently available on the market that have reported effects on mitochondrial functions. The resulting data were compared to the influence of the respective compounds on mitochondria as determined by oxygen consumption and to data generated with an ATP depletion assay. The comparison shows that the oxidative phosphorylation assay provides both a rapid approach for detecting interaction of compounds with respiratory chain proteins and information on their mode of interaction. Therefore, the oxphos assay is a useful tool to support structure activity relationship studies by allowing early identification of mitotoxicity and for analyzing the outcome of phenotypic screens that are susceptible to the generation of mitotoxicity-related artifacts.

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2013 – Minimized cell usage for stem cell-derived and primary cells on an automated patch clamp system
Patchliner Publication in Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods (2013) Authors: Becker N., Stoelzle S., Göpel S., Guinot D., Mumm P., Haarmann C., Malan D., Bohlen H., Kossolov E., Kettenhofen R., George M., Fertig N., Brüggemann A.

IntroductionChip-based automated patch clamp systems are widely used in drug development and safety pharmacology, allowing for high quality, high throughput screening at standardized experimental conditions. The merits of automation generally come at the cost of large amounts of cells needed, since cells are not targeted individually, but randomly positioned onto the chip aperture from cells in suspension. While cell usage is of little concern when using standard cell lines such as CHO or HEK cells, it becomes a crucial constraint with cells of limited availability, such as primary or otherwise rare and expensive cells, like induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cell-derived cardiomyocytes or neurons.MethodsWe established application protocols for CHO cells, IPS cell-derived neurons (iCell® Neurons, Cellular Dynamics International), cardiomyocytes (Cor.4U®, Axiogenesis) and pancreatic islet cells, minimizing cell usage for automated patch clamp recordings on Nanion's Patchliner. Use of 5 μl cell suspension per well for densities between 55,000 cells/ml and 400,000 cells/ml depending on cell type resulted in good cell capture.ResultsWe present a new cell application procedure optimized for the Patchliner achieving > 80% success rates for using as little as 300 to 2000 cells per well depending on cell type. We demonstrate that this protocol works for standard cell lines, as well as for stem cell-derived neurons and cardiomyocytes, and for primary pancreatic islet cells. We present recordings for these cell types, demonstrating that high data quality is not compromised by altered cell application.DiscussionOur new cell application procedure achieves high success rates with unprecedentedly low cell numbers. Compared to other standard automated patch clamp systems we reduced the average amount of cells needed by more than 150 times. Reduced cell usage crucially improves cost efficiency for expensive cells and opens up automated patch clamp for primary cells of limited availability.

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2013 – Monoacylglycerols Activate TRPV1 – A Link between Phospholipase C and TRPV1
Port-a-Patch Publication in PLoS One (2013) Authors: Zygmunt P.M., Ermund A., Movahed P., Andersson D.A., Simonsen C., Jönsson B.A., Blomgren A., Birnir B., Bevan S., Eschalier A., Mallet C., Gomis A., Högestätt E.D.

Phospholipase C-mediated hydrolysis of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate generates diacylglycerol, inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate and protons, all of which can regulate TRPV1 activity via different mechanisms. Here we explored the possibility that the diacylglycerol metabolites 2-arachidonoylglycerol and 1-arachidonoylglycerol, and not metabolites of these monoacylglycerols, activate TRPV1 and contribute to this signaling cascade. 2-Arachidonoylglycerol and 1-arachidonoylglycerol activated native TRPV1 on vascular sensory nerve fibers and heterologously expressed TRPV1 in whole cells and inside-out membrane patches. The monoacylglycerol lipase inhibitors methylarachidonoyl-fluorophosphonate and JZL184 prevented the metabolism of deuterium-labeled 2-arachidonoylglycerol and deuterium-labeled 1-arachidonoylglycerol in arterial homogenates, and enhanced TRPV1-mediated vasodilator responses to both monoacylglycerols. In mesenteric arteries from TRPV1 knock-out mice, vasodilator responses to 2-arachidonoylglycerol were minor. Bradykinin and adenosine triphosphate, ligands of phospholipase C-coupled membrane receptors, increased the content of 2-arachidonoylglycerol in dorsal root ganglia. In HEK293 cells expressing the phospholipase C-coupled histamine H1 receptor, exposure to histamine stimulated the formation of 2-AG, and this effect was augmented in the presence of JZL184. These effects were prevented by the diacylglycerol lipase inhibitor tetrahydrolipstatin. Histamine induced large whole cell currents in HEK293 cells co-expressing TRPV1 and the histamine H1 receptor, and the TRPV1 antagonist capsazepine abolished these currents. JZL184 increased the histamine-induced currents and tetrahydrolipstatin prevented this effect. The calcineurin inhibitor ciclosporin and the endogenous “entourage” compound palmitoylethanolamide potentiated the vasodilator response to 2-arachidonoylglycerol, disclosing TRPV1 activation of this monoacylglycerol at nanomolar concentrations. Furthermore, intracerebroventricular injection of JZL184 produced TRPV1-dependent antinociception in the mouse formalin test. Our results show that intact 2-arachidonoylglycerol and 1-arachidonoylglycerol are endogenous TRPV1 activators, contributing to phospholipase C-dependent TRPV1 channel activation and TRPV1-mediated antinociceptive signaling in the brain.

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2013 – Photocycle and vectorial proton transfer in a rhodopsin from the eukaryote Oxyrrhis marina
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Biochemistry (2013) Authors: Janke C., Scholz F., Becker-Baldus J., Glaubitz C., Wood P.G., Bamberg E., Wachtveitl J., Bamann C.

Retinylidene photoreceptors are ubiquitously present in marine protists as first documented by the identification of green proteorhodopsin (GPR). We present a detailed investigation of a rhodopsin from the protist Oxyrrhis marina (OR1) with respect to its spectroscopic properties and to its vectorial proton transport. Despite its homology to GPR, OR1's features differ markedly in its pH dependence. Protonation of the proton acceptor starts at pH below 4 and is sensitive to the ionic conditions. The mutation of a conserved histidine H62 did not influence the pK(a) value in a similar manner as in other proteorhodopsins where the charged histidine interacts with the proton acceptor forming the so-called His-Asp cluster. Mutational and pH-induced effects were further reflected in the temporal behavior upon light excitation ranging from femtoseconds to seconds. The primary photodynamics exhibits a high sensitivity to the environment of the proton acceptor D100 that are correlated to the different initial states. The mutation of the H62 does not affect photoisomerization at neutral pH. This is in agreement with NMR data indicating the absence of the His-Asp cluster. The subsequent steps in the photocycle revealed protonation reactions at the Schiff base coupled to proton pumping even at low pH. The main electrogenic steps are associated with the reprotonation of the Schiff base and internal proton donor. Hence, OR1 shows a different theme of the His-Asp organization where the low pK(a) of the proton acceptor is not dominated by this interaction, but by other electrostatic factors.

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2013 – Red cell investigations: Art and artefacts
Patchliner Publication in Blood reviews (2013) Authors: Minetti G., Egée S., Mörsdorf D., Steffen P., Makhro A., Achilli C., Ciana A., Wang J., Bouyer G., Bernhardt I., Wagner C., Thomas S., Bogdanova A., Kaestner L.

Red blood cell research is important for both, the clinical haematology, such as transfusion medicine or anaemia investigations, and the basic research fields like exploring general membrane physiology or rheology. Investigations of red blood cells include a wide spectrum of methodologies ranging from population measurements with a billion cells evaluated simultaneously to single-cell approaches. All methods have a potential for pitfalls, and the comparison of data achieved by different technical approaches requires a consistent set of standards. Here, we give an overview of common mistakes using the most popular methodologies in red blood cell research and how to avoid them. Additionally, we propose a number of standards that we believe will allow for data comparison between the different techniques and different labs. We consider biochemical analysis, flux measurements, flow cytometry, patch-clamp measurements and dynamic fluorescence imaging as well as emerging single-cell techniques, such as the use of optical tweezers and atomic force microscopy.

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2013 – Self-Assembled DNA Nanopores That Span Lipid Bilayers
Orbit 16 Publication in Nano Letters (2013) Authors: Burns J.R., Stulz E., Howorka S.

DNA nanotechnology excels at rationally designing bottom-up structures that can functionally replicate naturally occurring proteins. Here we describe the design and generation of a stable DNA-based nanopore that structurally mimics the amphiphilic nature of protein pores and inserts into bilayers to support a steady transmembrane flow of ions. The pore carries an outer hydrophobic belt comprised of small chemical alkyl groups which mask the negatively charged oligonucleotide backbone. This modification overcomes the otherwise inherent energetic mismatch to the hydrophobic environment of the membrane. By merging the fields of nanopores and DNA nanotechnology, we expect that the small membrane-spanning DNA pore will help open up the design of entirely new molecular devices for a broad range of applications including sensing, electric circuits, catalysis, and research into nanofluidics and controlled transmembrane transport.

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2014 – A potent and KV1.3-selective analogue of the scorpion toxin HsTX1 as a potential therapeutic for autoimmune diseases
Port-a-Patch Publication in Nature Scientific Reports (2014) Authors: Rashid M.H., Huq R., Tanner M.R., Chhabra S., Khoo K.K., Estrada R., Dhawan V., Chauhan S., Pennington M.W., Beeton C., Kuyucak S., Norton R.S.

HsTX1 toxin, from the scorpion Heterometrus spinnifer, is a 34-residue, C-terminally amidated peptide cross-linked by four disulfide bridges. Here we describe new HsTX1 analogues with an Ala, Phe, Val or Abu substitution at position 14. Complexes of HsTX1 with the voltage-gated potassium channels KV1.3 and KV1.1 were created using docking and molecular dynamics simulations, then umbrella sampling simulations were performed to construct the potential of mean force (PMF) of the ligand and calculate the corresponding binding free energy for the most stable configuration. The PMF method predicted that the R14A mutation in HsTX1 would yield a > 2 kcal/mol gain for the KV1.3/KV1.1 selectivity free energy relative to the wild-type peptide. Functional assays confirmed the predicted selectivity gain for HsTX1[R14A] and HsTX1[R14Abu], with an affinity for KV1.3 in the low picomolar range and a selectivity of more than 2,000-fold for KV1.3 over KV1.1. This remarkable potency and selectivity for KV1.3, which is significantly up-regulated in activated effector memory cells in humans, suggest that these analogues represent valuable leads in the development of therapeutics for autoimmune diseases.

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2014 – A small molecule restores function to TRPML1 mutant isoforms responsible for mucolipidosis type IV
Port-a-Patch Publication in Nature Communications (2014) Authors: Chen C.C., Keller M., Hess M., Schiffmann R., Urban N., Wolfgardt A., Schaefer M., Bracher F., Biel M., Wahl-Schott C., Grimm C.

Mucolipidosis type IV (MLIV) is an autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorder often characterized by severe neurodevelopmental abnormalities and neuro-retinal degeneration. Mutations in the TRPML1 gene are causative for MLIV. We used lead optimization strategies to identify—and MLIV patient fibroblasts to test—small-molecule activators for their potential to restore TRPML1 mutant channel function. Using the whole-lysosome planar patch-clamp technique, we found that activation of MLIV mutant isoforms by the endogenous ligand PI(3,5)P2 is strongly reduced, while activity can be increased using synthetic ligands. We also found that the F465L mutation renders TRPML1 pH insensitive, while F408Δ impacts synthetic ligand binding. Trafficking defects and accumulation of zinc in lysosomes of MLIV mutant fibroblasts can be rescued by the small molecule treatment. Collectively, our data demonstrate that small molecules can be used to restore channel function and rescue disease associated abnormalities in patient cells expressing specific MLIV point mutations.

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2014 – An outer membrane channel protein of Mycobacterium tuberculosis with exotoxin activity
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2014) Authors: Danilchanka A., Sun J., Pavlenok M., Maueröder C., Speer A., Siroy A., Marrero J., Trujillo C., Mayhew D.L., Doornbos K.S., Muñoz 'L.E., HerrmannM., EhrtS., Berens C., Niederweisa M.

The ability to control the timing and mode of host cell death plays a pivotal role in microbial infections. Many bacteria use toxins to kill host cells and evade immune responses. Such toxins are unknown in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Virulent M. tuberculosis strains induce necrotic cell death in macrophages by an obscure molecular mechanism. Here we show that the M. tuberculosis protein Rv3903c (channel protein with necrosis-inducing toxin, CpnT) consists of an N-terminal channel domain that is used for uptake of nutrients across the outer membrane and a secreted toxic C-terminal domain. Infection experiments revealed that CpnT is required for survival and cytotoxicity of M. tuberculosis in macrophages. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the C-terminal domain of CpnT causes necrotic cell death in eukaryotic cells. Thus, CpnT has a dual function in uptake of nutrients and induction of host cell death by M. tuberculosis.

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2014 – Anticancer Ruthenium(III) Complex KP1019 Interferes with ATP-Dependent Ca2+ Translocation by Sarco-Endoplasmic Reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA)
SURFE2R N1 Publication in ChemMedChem (2014) Authors: Sadafi F.Z., Massai L., Bartolommei G., Moncelli M.R., Messori L., Tadini-Buoninsegni F.

Sarco-endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA), a P-type ATPase that sustains Ca2+ transport and plays a major role in intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis, represents a therapeutic target for cancer therapy. Here, we investigated whether ruthenium-based anticancer drugs, namely KP1019 (indazolium [trans-tetrachlorobis(1H-indazole)ruthenate(III)]), NAMI-A (imidazolium [trans-tetrachloro(1H-imidazole)(S-dimethylsulfoxide)ruthenate(III)]) and RAPTA-C ([Ru(η6-p-cymene)dichloro(1,3,5-triaza-7-phosphaadamantane)]), and cisplatin (cis-diammineplatinum(II) dichloride) might act as inhibitors of SERCA. Charge displacement by SERCA adsorbed on a solid-supported membrane was measured after ATP or Ca2+ concentration jumps. Our results show that KP1019, in contrast tocancer the other metal compounds, is able to interfere with ATP-dependent translocation of Ca2+ ions. An IC50 value of 1 μM was determined for inhibition of calcium translocation by KP1019. Conversely, it appears that KP1019 does not significantly affect Ca2+ binding to the ATPase from the cytoplasmic side. Inhibition of SERCA at pharmacologically relevant concentrations may represent a crucial aspect in the overall pharmacological and toxicological profile of KP1019.

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2014 – Automated Patch Clamp Analysis of nAChα7 and NaV1.7 Channels
Port-a-Patch and Patchliner Publication in Current Protocols in Pharmacology (2014) Authors: Obergrussberger A., Haarmann C., Rinke I., Becker N., Guinot D., Brueggemann A., Stoelzle-Feix S., George M., Fertig N.

Automated patch clamp devices are now commonly used for studying ion channels. A useful modification of this approach is the replacement of the glass pipet with a thin planar glass layer with a small hole in the middle. Planar patch clamp devices, such as the three described in this unit, are overtaking glass pipets in popularity because they increase throughput, are easier to use, provide for the acquisition of high-quality and information-rich data, and allow for rapid perfusion and temperature control. Covered in this unit are two challenging targets in drug discovery: voltage-gated sodium subtype 1.7 (NaV1.7) and nicotinic acetylcholine α7 receptors (nAChα7R). Provided herein are protocols for recording activation and inactivation kinetics of NaV1.7, and activation and allosteric modulation of nAChα7R.

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2014 – Calcium regulation by temperature-sensitive transient receptor potential channels in human uveal melanoma cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Cellular Signalling (2014) Authors: Mergler S., Derckx R., Reinach P.S., Garreis F., Böhm A., Schmelzer L., Skosyrski S., Ramesh N., Abdelmessih S., Polat O.K., Khajavi N., Riechardt A.I.

Uveal melanoma (UM) is both the most common and fatal intraocular cancer among adults worldwide. As with all types of neoplasia, changes in Ca2+ channel regulation can contribute to the onset and progression of this pathological condition. Transient receptor potential channels (TRPs) and cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) are two different types of Ca2+ permeation pathways that can be dysregulated during neoplasia. We determined in malignant human UM and healthy uvea and four different UM cell lines whether there is gene and functional expression of TRP subtypes and CB1 since they could serve as drug targets to either prevent or inhibit initiation and progression of UM. RT-PCR, Ca2+ transients, immunohistochemistry and planar patch-clamp analysis probed for their gene expression and functional activity, respectively. In UM cells, TRPV1 and TRPM8 gene expression was identified. Capsaicin (CAP), menthol or icilin induced Ca2+ transients as well as changes in ion current behavior characteristic of TRPV1 and TRPM8 expression. Such effects were blocked with either La3+, capsazepine (CPZ) or BCTC. TRPA1 and CB1 are highly expressed in human uvea, but TRPA1 is not expressed in all UM cell lines. In UM cells, the CB1 agonist, WIN 55,212-2, induced Ca2+ transients, which were suppressed by La3+ and CPZ whereas CAP-induced Ca2+ transients could also be suppressed by CB1 activation. Identification of functional TRPV1, TRPM8, TRPA1 and CB1 expression in these tissues may provide novel drug targets for treatment of this aggressive neoplastic disease.

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2014 – Crystal structure of a human GABAA receptor
Port-a-Patch Publication in Nature (2014) Authors: Miller P.S., Aricescu A.R.

Type-A γ-aminobutyric acid receptors (GABAARs) are the principal mediators of rapid inhibitory synaptic transmission in the human brain. A decline in GABAAR signalling triggers hyperactive neurological disorders such as insomnia, anxiety and epilepsy. Here we present the first three-dimensional structure of a GABAAR, the human β3 homopentamer, at 3 Å resolution. This structure reveals architectural elements unique to eukaryotic Cys-loop receptors, explains the mechanistic consequences of multiple human disease mutations and shows an unexpected structural role for a conserved N-linked glycan. The receptor was crystallized bound to a previously unknown agonist, benzamidine, opening a new avenue for the rational design of GABAAR modulators. The channel region forms a closed gate at the base of the pore, representative of a desensitized state. These results offer new insights into the signalling mechanisms of pentameric ligand-gated ion channels and enhance current understanding of GABAergic neurotransmission.

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2014 – Direct observation of electrogenic NH4(+) transport in ammonium transport (Amt) proteins
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in PNAS (2014) Authors: Wacker T., Garcia-Celma J.J., Lewe P., Andrade S.L.

Significance: We have detected and analyzed electrogenic transport of ammonium and methylammonium by members of the ammonium transport (Amt) family of membrane proteins using solid-supported membrane electrophysiology. Amt transport is pH-dependent and occurs at a rate of 30–300 ions per s per trimer, well in the range of other transport proteins. The study establishes, to our knowledge, the first in vitro assay system for Amt transport in a fully controlled setup and settles debate about whether Amt proteins function as passive ammonia channels or active ammonium transporters.Abstract:Significance: We have detected and analyzed electrogenic transport of ammonium and methylammonium by members of the ammonium transport (Amt) family of membrane proteins using solid-supported membrane electrophysiology. Amt transport is pH-dependent and occurs at a rate of 30–300 ions per s per trimer, well in the range of other transport proteins. The study establishes, to our knowledge, the first in vitro assay system for Amt transport in a fully controlled setup and settles debate about whether Amt proteins function as passive ammonia channels or active ammonium transporters. Abstract: Ammonium transport (Amt) proteins form a ubiquitous family of integral membrane proteins that specifically shuttle ammonium across membranes. In prokaryotes, archaea, and plants, Amts are used as environmental NH4+ sCaVengers for uptake and assimilation of nitrogen. In the eukaryotic homologs, the Rhesus proteins, NH4+/NH3 transport is used instead in acid–base and pH homeostasis in kidney or NH4+/NH3 (and eventually CO2) detoxification in erythrocytes. Crystal structures and variant proteins are available, but the inherent challenges associated with the unambiguous identification of substrate and monitoring of transport events severely inhibit further progress in the field. Here we report a reliable in vitro assay that allows us to quantify the electrogenic capacity of Amt proteins. Using solid-supported membrane (SSM)-based electrophysiology, we have investigated the three Amt orthologs from the euryarchaeon Archaeoglobus fulgidus. Af-Amt1 and Af-Amt3 are electrogenic and transport the ammonium and methylammonium cation with high specificity. Transport is pH-dependent, with a steep decline at pH values of ∼5.0. Despite significant sequence homologies, functional differences between the three proteins became apparent. SSM electrophysiology provides a long-sought-after functional assay for the ubiquitous ammonium transporters.

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2014 – Early identification of hERG liability in drug discovery programs by automated patch clamp
Patchliner and SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) Publication in Frontiers in Pharmacology (2014) Authors: Danker T., Moeller C.

Blockade of the cardiac ion channel coded by human ether-à-gogo-related gene (hERG) can lead to cardiac arrhythmia, which has become a major concern in drug discovery and development. Automated electrophysiological patch clamp allows assessment of hERG channel effects early in drug development to aid medicinal chemistry programs and has become routine in pharmaceutical companies. However, a number of potential sources of errors in setting up hERG channel assays by automated patch clamp can lead to misinterpretation of data or false effects being reported. This article describes protocols for automated electrophysiology screening of compound effects on the hERG channel current. Protocol details and the translation of criteria known from manual patch clamp experiments to automated patch clamp experiments to achieve good quality data are emphasized. Typical pitfalls and artifacts that may lead to misinterpretation of data are discussed. While this article focuses on hERG channel recordings using the QPatch (Sophion A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark) technology, many of the assay and protocol details given in this article can be transferred for setting up different ion channel assays by automated patch clamp and are similar on other planar patch clamp platforms.

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2014 – Generation of chip based microelectrochemical cell arrays for long-term and high-resolution recording of ionic currents through ion channel proteins
Orbit 16 Publication in Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical (2014) Authors: Zheng T., Baaken G., Vellinger M., Behrends J.C., Rühe J.

High throughput and a long life-time of the devices are two crucial challenges in planar chip technology for electrophysiological measurements of ionic current recording through ion channel proteins. In this paper, we present a wafer-scale process for the generation of novel arrays of microelectrochemical cells for long-term and high-resolution current recording. At the bottom of each of the cells, which have typically diameters of around 60 μm and volumes of around 30 pL, a nanocrystalline silver/silver chloride secondary electrode is generated for ionic current recording. The top of the cell is closed by a lid containing a small (6–16 μm) opening which connects liquid in the chamber to a contacting liquid on the outside. The processes necessary for manufacturing such a chip through photolithography and wafer-scale bonding have been developed, the resulting structures were characterized and the procedures were optimized. Combining a large surface area of the electrode with a – in relation to the cell size – relatively large amount of silver/silver chloride allows for the recording of DC ionic currents for prolonged periods of time. First measurements were performed where the electrochemical cells were closed by model membranes containing single ion channel proteins. The currents generated by ions passing through these ion channels are reported. These measurements demonstrate the usefulness of the microelectrochemical cell array for long time ionic current recordings at – for these type of measurements – relatively high current levels.

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2014 – High susceptibility to fatty liver disease in two-pore channel 2-deficient mice
Port-a-Patch Publication in Nature Communications (2014) Authors: Grimm C., Holdt L.M., Chen C.C., Hassan S., Müller C., Jörs S., Cuny H., Kissing S., Schröder B., Butz B., Northoff B., Castonguay J., Luber C.A., Moser M., Spahn S., Lüllmann-Rauch R., Fendel C., Klugbauer N., Griesbeck O., Haas A., Mann M., Bracher F., Teupser D., Saftig P., Biel M., Wahl-Schott C.

Endolysosomal organelles play a key role in trafficking, breakdown and receptor-mediated recycling of different macromolecules such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, epithelial growth factor (EGF) or transferrin. Here we examine the role of two-pore channel (TPC) 2, an endolysosomal cation channel, in these processes. Embryonic mouse fibroblasts and hepatocytes lacking TPC2 display a profound impairment of LDL-cholesterol and EGF/EGF-receptor trafficking. Mechanistically, both defects can be attributed to a dysfunction of the endolysosomal degradation pathway most likely on the level of late endosome to lysosome fusion. Importantly, endolysosomal acidification or lysosomal enzyme function are normal in TPC2-deficient cells. TPC2-deficient mice are highly susceptible to hepatic cholesterol overload and liver damage consistent with non-alcoholic fatty liver hepatitis. These findings indicate reduced metabolic reserve of hepatic cholesterol handling. Our results suggest that TPC2 plays a crucial role in trafficking in the endolysosomal degradation pathway and, thus, is potentially involved in the homoeostatic control of many macromolecules and cell metabolites.

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2014 – Human TRPA1 is intrinsically cold- and chemosensitive with and without its N-terminal ankyrin repeat domain
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2014)   Authors: Moparthi L., Survery S., Kreir M., Simonsen C., Kjellbom P., Högestätt E.D., Johanson U., Zygmunt P.M.

We have purified and reconstituted human transient receptor potential (TRP) subtype A1 (hTRPA1) into lipid bilayers and recorded single-channel currents to understand its inherent thermo- and chemosensory properties as well as the role of the ankyrin repeat domain (ARD) of the N terminus in channel behavior. We report that hTRPA1 with and without its N-terminal ARD (Δ1–688 hTRPA1) is intrinsically cold-sensitive, and thus, cold-sensing properties of hTRPA1 reside outside the N-terminal ARD. We show activation of hTRPA1 by the thiol oxidant 2-((biotinoyl)amino)ethyl methanethiosulfonate (MTSEA-biotin) and that electrophilic compounds activate hTRPA1 in the presence and absence of the N-terminal ARD. The nonelectrophilic compounds menthol and the cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabiorcol (C16) directly activate hTRPA1 at different sites independent of the N-terminal ARD. The TRPA1 antagonist HC030031 inhibited cold and chemical activation of hTRPA1 and Δ1–688 hTRPA1, supporting a direct interaction with hTRPA1 outside the N-terminal ARD. These findings show that hTRPA1 is an intrinsically cold- and chemosensitive ion channel. Thus, second messengers, including Ca2+, or accessory proteins are not needed for hTRPA1 responses to cold or chemical activators. We suggest that conformational changes outside the N-terminal ARD by cold, electrophiles, and nonelectrophiles are important in hTRPA1 channel gating and that targeting chemical interaction sites outside the N-terminal ARD provides possibilities to fine tune TRPA1-based drug therapies (e.g., for treatment of pain associated with cold hypersensitivity and cardiovascular disease).

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2014 – Improvement of Chloride Transport Defect by Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) in Cystic Fibrosis Epithelial Cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in PLoS One (2014) Authors: Benz N., Le Hir S., Norez C., Kerbiriou M., Calvez M.-L., Becq F., Trouvé P. , Férec C.

Cystic fibrosis (CF), the most common autosomal recessive disease in Caucasians, is due to mutations in the CFTR gene. F508del, the most frequent mutation in patients, impairs CFTR protein folding and biosynthesis. The F508del-CFTR protein is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and its traffic to the plasma membrane is altered. Nevertheless, if it reaches the cell surface, it exhibits a Cl− channel function despite a short half-life. Pharmacological treatments may target the F508del-CFTR defect directly by binding to the mutant protein or indirectly by altering cellular proteostasis, and promote its plasma membrane targeting and stability. We previously showed that annexine A5 (AnxA5) directly binds to F508del-CFTR and, when overexpressed, promotes its membrane stability, leading to the restoration of some Cl− channel function in cells. Because Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) increases AnxA5 expression in some cells, we tested it in CF cells. We showed that human epithelial cells express GnRH-receptors (GnRH-R) and that GnRH induces an AnxA5 overexpression and an increased Cl− channel function in F508del-CFTR cells, due to an increased stability of the protein in the membranes. Beside the numerous physiological implications of the GnRH-R expression in epithelial cells, we propose that a topical use of GnRH is a potential treatment in CF.

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2014 – Industrializing Electrophysiology: HT Automated Patch Clamp on SyncroPatch 96 Using Instant Frozen Cells
SURFE2R N96 (predecessor model of SURFE2R 96SE) book chapter in Patch-Clamp Methods and Protocols Authors: Polonchuk L.

Patch-clamping is a powerful technique for investigating the ion channel function and regulation. However, its low throughput hampered profiling of large compound series in early drug development. Fortunately, automation has revolutionized the area of experimental electrophysiology over the past decade. Whereas the first automated patch-clamp instruments using the planar patch-clamp technology demonstrated rather a moderate throughput, few second-generation automated platforms recently launched by various companies have significantly increased ability to form a high number of high-resistance seals. Among them is SyncroPatch 96 (Nanion Technologies GmbH, Munich, Germany), a fully automated giga-seal patch-clamp system with the highest throughput on the market. By recording from up to 96 cells simultaneously, the SyncroPatch 96 allows to substantially increase throughput without compromising data quality. This chapter describes features of the innovative automated electrophysiology system and protocols used for a successful transfer of the established hERG assay to this high-throughput automated platform.

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2014 – KCNMA1 Encoded Cardiac BK Channels Afford Protection against Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury
Port-a-Patch Publication in PLoS One (2014) Authors: Soltysinska E., Bentzen B.H., Barthmes M., Hattel H., Thrush A.B., Harper M.E., Qvortrup K., Larsen F.J., Schiffer T.A., Losa-Reyna J., Straubinger J., Kniess A., Thomsen M.B., Brüggemann A., Fenske S., Biel M., Ruth P., Wahl-Schott C., Boushel R.C., Olesen S.P., Lukowski R.

Mitochondrial potassium channels have been implicated in myocardial protection mediated through pre-/postconditioning. Compounds that open the Ca2+- and voltage-activated potassium channel of big-conductance (BK) have a pre-conditioning-like effect on survival of cardiomyocytes after ischemia/reperfusion injury. Recently, mitochondrial BK channels (mitoBKs) in cardiomyocytes were implicated as infarct-limiting factors that derive directly from the KCNMA1 gene encoding for canonical BKs usually present at the plasma membrane of cells. However, some studies challenged these cardio-protective roles of mitoBKs. Herein, we present electrophysiological evidence for paxilline- and NS11021-sensitive BK-mediated currents of 190 pS conductance in mitoplasts from wild-type but not BK−/− cardiomyocytes. Transmission electron microscopy of BK−/− ventricular muscles fibres showed normal ultra-structures and matrix dimension, but oxidative phosphorylation capacities at normoxia and upon re-oxygenation after anoxia were significantly attenuated in BK−/− permeabilized cardiomyocytes. In the absence of BK, post-anoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) production from cardiomyocyte mitochondria was elevated indicating that mitoBK fine-tune the oxidative state at hypoxia and re-oxygenation. Because ROS and the capacity of the myocardium for oxidative metabolism are important determinants of cellular survival, we tested BK−/− hearts for their response in an ex-vivo model of ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. Infarct areas, coronary flow and heart rates were not different between wild-type and BK−/− hearts upon I/R injury in the absence of ischemic pre-conditioning (IP), but differed upon IP. While the area of infarction comprised 28±3% of the area at risk in wild-type, it was increased to 58±5% in BK−/− hearts suggesting that BK mediates the beneficial effects of IP. These findings suggest that cardiac BK channels are important for proper oxidative energy supply of cardiomyocytes at normoxia and upon re-oxygenation after prolonged anoxia and that IP might indeed favor survival of the myocardium upon I/R injury in a BK-dependent mode stemming from both mitochondrial post-anoxic ROS modulation and non-mitochondrial localizations.

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2014 – Keeping it simple, transport mechanism and pH regulation in Na+/H+ exchangers
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2014) Authors: Călinescu O., Paulino C., Kühlbrandt W., Fendler K.

Na+/H+ exchangers are essential for regulation of intracellular proton and sodium concentrations in all living organisms. We examined and experimentally verified a kinetic model for Na+/H+ exchangers, where a single binding site is alternatively occupied by Na+ or one or two H+ ions. The proposed transport mechanism inherently down-regulates Na+/H+ exchangers at extreme pH, preventing excessive cytoplasmic acidification or alkalinization. As an experimental test system we present the first electrophysiological investigation of an electroneutral Na+/H+ exchanger, NhaP1 from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (MjNhaP1), a close homologue of the medically important eukaryotic NHE Na+/H+ exchangers. The kinetic model describes the experimentally observed substrate dependences of MjNhaP1, and the transport mechanism explains alkaline down-regulation of MjNhaP1. Because this model also accounts for acidic down-regulation of the electrogenic NhaA Na+/H+ exchanger from Escherichia coli (EcNhaA, shown in a previous publication) we conclude that it applies generally to all Na+/H+ exchangers, electrogenic as well as electroneutral, and elegantly explains their pH regulation. Furthermore, the electrophysiological analysis allows insight into the electrostatic structure of the translocation complex in electroneutral and electrogenic Na+/H+ exchangers.

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2014 – L-Carnitine Reduces in Human Conjunctival Epithelial Cells Hypertonic- Induced Shrinkage through Interacting with TRPV1 Channels
Port-a-Patch Publication in Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry (2014) Authors: Khajavi N., Reinach P.S., Skrzypski M., LudeA., Mergler S.

Background/Aims: Ocular surface health depends on conjunctival epithelial (HCjE) layer integrity since it protects against pathogenic infiltration and contributes to tissue hydration maintenance. As the same increases in tear film hyperosmolarity described in dry eye disease can increase corneal epithelial transient receptor potential vanilloid type-1 (TRPV1) channel activity, we evaluated its involvement in mediating an osmoprotective effect by L-carnitine against such stress. Methods: Using siRNA gene silencing, Ca2+ imaging, planar patch-clamping and relative cell volume measurements, we determined if the protective effects of this osmolyte stem from its interaction with TRPV1. Results: TRPV1 activation by capsaicin (CAP) and an increase in osmolarity to ≈ 450 mOsM both induced increases in Ca2+ levels. In contrast, blocking TRPV1 activation with capsazepine (CPZ) fully reversed this response. Similarly, L-carnitine (1 mM) also reduced underlying whole-cell currents. In calcein-AM loaded cells, hypertonic-induced relative cell volume shrinkage was fully blocked during exposure to L-carnitine. On the other hand, in TRPV1 gene-silenced cells, this protective effect by L-carnitine was obviated.Conclusion:The described L-carnitine osmoprotective effect is elicited through suppression of hypertonic-induced TRPV1 activation leading to increases in L-carnitine uptake through a described Na+-dependent L-carnitine transporter.

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2014 – Membrane assembly of the functional KcsA potassium channel in a vesicle-based eukaryotic cell-free translation system
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Biosensors and Bioelectronics (2014)   Authors: Dondapati S.K., Kreir M., Quast R.B., Wüstenhagen D.A., Brüggemann A., Fertig N., Kubick S.

The potassium channel KcsA was heterologously expressed in a eukaryotic cell-free system. Both, the expression yields and functional analysis of the protein were reported. Qualitative and quantitative analyses of KcsA expression were performed by using 14C-labeled leucine as one of the amino acids supplemented in the cell-free reaction mixture. There was a time dependent increase in the protein yield as well as the intensity of the native tetramer band in insect cell derived microsomes. Electrophysiology measurements demonstrated the functional activity of the microsomes harboring KcsA showing single-channel currents with the typical biophysical characteristics of the ion channel. The channel behavior was asymmetric and showed positive rectification with larger currents towards positive voltages. KcsA channel currents were effectively blocked by potassium selective barium (Ba2+). This functional demonstration of an ion channel in eukaryotic cell-free system has a large potential for future applications including drug screening, diagnostic applications and functional assessment of complex membrane proteins like GPCRs by coupling them to ion channels in cell-free systems. Furthermore, membrane proteins can be expressed directly from linear DNA templates within 90 min, eliminating the need for additional cloning steps, which makes this cell-free system fast and efficient.

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2014 – Molecular characterization of the Na+/H+-antiporter NhaA from Salmonella Typhimurium
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in PLoS ONE (2014) Authors: Lentes C.J., Mir S.H., Boehm M., Ganea C., Fendler K., Hunte C.

Na+/H+ antiporters are integral membrane proteins that are present in almost every cell and in every kingdom of life. They are essential for the regulation of intracellular pH-value, Na+-concentration and cell volume. These secondary active transporters exchange sodium ions against protons via an alternating access mechanism, which is not understood in full detail. Na+/H+ antiporters show distinct species-specific transport characteristics and regulatory properties that correlate with respective physiological functions. Here we present the characterization of the Na+/H+ antiporter NhaA from Salmonella enterica serovar Thyphimurium LT2, the causing agent of food-born human gastroenteritis and typhoid like infections. The recombinant antiporter was functional in vivo and in vitro. Expression of its gene complemented the Na+-sensitive phenotype of an E. coli strain that lacks the main Na+/H+ antiporters. Purified to homogeneity, the antiporter was a dimer in solution as accurately determined by size-exclusion chromatography combined with multi-angle laser-light scattering and refractive index monitoring. The purified antiporter was fully capable of electrogenic Na+(Li+)/H+-antiport when reconstituted in proteoliposomes and assayed by solid-supported membrane-based electrophysiological measurements. Transport activity was inhibited by 2-aminoperimidine. The recorded negative currents were in agreement with a 1Na+(Li+)/2H+ stoichiometry. Transport activity was low at pH 7 and up-regulation above this pH value was accompanied by a nearly 10-fold decrease of KmNa (16 mM at pH 8.5) supporting a competitive substrate binding mechanism. K+ does not affect Na+ affinity or transport of substrate cations, indicating that selectivity of the antiport arises from the substrate binding step. In contrast to homologous E. coli NhaA, transport activity remains high at pH values above 8.5. The antiporter from S. Typhimurium is a promising candidate for combined structural and functional studies to contribute to the elucidation of the mechanism of pH-dependent Na+/H+ antiporters and to provide insights in the molecular basis of species-specific growth and survival strategies.

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2014 – Multi-Generational Pharmacophore Modeling for Ligands to the Cholane Steroid-Recognition Site in the β1 Modulatory Subunit of the BK(Ca) Channel
Patchliner Publication in Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling (2014) Authors: McMillan J.E., Bukiya A.N., Terrell C.L., Patil S.A., Miller D.D., Dopico A.M., Parrilla A.L.

Large conductance, voltage- and Ca2+-gated K+ (BKCa) channels play a critical role in smooth muscle contractility and thus represent an emerging therapeutic target for drug development to treat vascular disease, gastrointestinal, bladder and uterine disorders. Several compounds are known to target the ubiquitously expressed BKCa channel-forming α subunit. In contrast, just a few are known to target the BKCa modulatory β1 subunit, which is highly expressed in smooth muscle and scarce in most other tissues. Lack of available high-resolution structural data makes structure-based pharmacophore modeling of β1 subunit-dependent BKCa channel activators a major challenge. Following recent discoveries of novel BKCa channel activators that act via β1 subunit recognition, we performed ligand-based pharmacophore modeling that led to the successful creation and fine-tuning of a pharmacophore over several generations. Initial models were developed using physiologically active cholane steroids (bile acids) as template. However, as more compounds that act on BKCa β1 have been discovered, our model has been refined to improve accuracy. Database searching with our best-performing model has uncovered several novel compounds as candidate BKCa β1 subunit ligands. Eight of the identified compounds were experimentally screened and two proved to be activators of recombinant BKCa β1 complexes. One of these activators, sobetirome, differs substantially in structure from any previously reported activator.

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2014 – Nanoscale phase behavior on flat and curved membranes
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Nanotechnology (2014) Authors: Andersen T., Bahadori A., Ott D., Kyrsting A., Reihani S.N.S., Bendix P.M.

The diverse physical properties of membranes play a critical role in many membrane associated biological processes. Proteins responsible for membrane transport can be affected by the lateral membrane order and lateral segregation of proteins is often controlled by the preference of certain membrane anchors for membrane phases having a physically ordered state. The dynamic properties of coexisting membrane phases are often studied by investigating their thermal behavior. Optical trapping of gold nanoparticles is a useful tool to generate local phase transitions in membranes. The high local temperatures surrounding an irradiated gold nanoparticle can be used to melt a part of a giant unilamellar lipid vesicle (GUV) which is then imaged using phase sensitive fluorophores embedded within the bilayer. By local melting of GUVs we reveal how a protein-free, one component lipid bilayer can mediate passive transport of fluorescent molecules by localized and transient pore formation. Also, we show how tubular membrane curvatures can be generated by optical pulling from the melted region on the GUV. This will allow us to measure the effect of membrane curvature on the phase transition temperature.

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2014 – New strategies in ion channel screening for drug discovery: are there ways to improve its productivity?
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) Publication in Journal of Laboratory Automation (2014) Authors: Farre C., Fertig N.

Introduction From a drug discovery point of view, ion channels are very interesting and challenging targets. Over the past decade, great efforts have been made in developing platforms for patch clamp-based high-quality screening of ion channels in discovering new drug candidates as well for evaluating their safety profiles. Indeed, the automated patch clamp (APC) has recently reached the data throughput requirements of high-throughput screening (HTS) allowing for new screening strategies with ion channel active compounds. Areas covered This editorial article comments on the past and present developments of APC-based drug screening. Furthermore, it also looks at the implications of APC technology meeting HTS-standards as well as its use in compound safety evaluation. Expert opinion In the imminent future, we will see a paradigm shift in ion channel drug screening toward using APC-based platforms for primary drug library screens. This way, the redundancy of the drug discovery process and the risk of false-negatives could be drastically reduced. Furthermore, cardiac safety can be addressed early, avoiding late-phase withdrawals with promising drug candidates. It is our firm belief that APC-based ion channel HTS will facilitate the discovery of candidates, which otherwise would have not been found, and shorten the drug development cycle, saving time and cost.

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2014 – NhaA Na+/H+ antiporter mutants that hardly react to the membrane potential
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in PLoS ONE (2014) Authors: Alkoby D., Rimon A., Budak M., Patino-Ruiz M., Călinescu O., Fendler K., Padan E..

pH and Na+ homeostasis in all cells requires Na+/H+ antiporters. The crystal structure, obtained at pH 4, of NhaA, the main antiporter of Escherichia coli, has provided general insights into an antiporter mechanism and its unique pH regulation. Here, we describe a general method to select various NhaA mutants from a library of randomly mutagenized NhaA. The selected mutants, A167P and F267C are described in detail. Both mutants are expressed in Escherichia coli EP432 cells at 70-95% of the wild type but grow on selective medium only at neutral pH, A167P on Li+ (0.1 M) and F267C on Na+ (0.6 M). Surprising for an electrogenic secondary transporter, and opposed to wild type NhaA, the rates of A167P and F267C are almost indifferent to membrane potential. Detailed kinetic analysis reveals that in both mutants the rate limiting step of the cation exchange cycle is changed from an electrogenic to an electroneutral reaction.

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2014 – Physiological and genetic analysis of multiple sodium channel variants in a model of genetic absence epilepsy
Patchliner Publication in Neurobiology of Disease (2014) Authors: Oliva M.K., McGarr T.C., Beyer B.J., Gazina E., Kaplan D.I., Cordeiro L., Thomas E., Dib-Hajj S.D., Waxman S.G., Frankel W.N., Petrou S.

In excitatory neurons, SCN2A (NaV1.2) and SCN8A (NaV1.6) sodium channels are enriched at the axon initial segment. NaV1.6 is implicated in several mouse models of absence epilepsy, including a missense mutation identified in a chemical mutagenesis screen (Scn8aV929F). Here, we confirmed the prior suggestion that Scn8aV929F exhibits a striking genetic background-dependent difference in phenotypic severity, observing that spike-wave discharge (SWD) incidence and severity are significantly diminished when Scn8aV929F is fully placed onto the C57BL/6J strain compared with C3H. Examination of sequence differences in NaV subunits between these two inbred strains suggested NaV1.2V752F as a potential source of this modifier effect. Recognising that the spatial co-localisation of the NaV channels at the axon initial segment (AIS) provides a plausible mechanism for functional interaction, we tested this idea by undertaking biophysical characterisation of the variant NaV channels and by computer modelling. NaV1.2V752F functional analysis revealed an overall gain-of-function and for NaV1.6V929F revealed an overall loss-of-function. A biophysically realistic computer model was used to test the idea that interaction between these variant channels at the AIS contributes to the strain background effect. Surprisingly this modelling showed that neuronal excitability is dominated by the properties of NaV1.2V752F due to “functional silencing” of NaV1.6V929F suggesting that these variants do not directly interact. Consequent genetic mapping of the major strain modifier to Chr 7, and not Chr 2 where Scn2a maps, supported this biophysical prediction. While a NaV1.6V929F loss of function clearly underlies absence seizures in this mouse model, the strain background effect is apparently not due to an otherwise tempting Scn2a variant, highlighting the value of combining physiology and genetics to inform and direct each other when interrogating genetic complex traits such as absence epilepsy.

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2014 – Species differences in bacterial NhaA Na+/H+ exchangers
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in FEBS Letters (2014) Authors: Călinescu O., Danner E., Böhm M., Hunte C., Fendler K..

Bacteria have adapted their NhaA Na+/H+ exchangers responsible for salt homeostasis to their different habitats. We present an electrophysiological and kinetic analysis of NhaA from Helicobacter pylori and compare it to the previously investigated exchangers from Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium. Properties of all three transporters are described by a simple model using a single binding site for H+ and Na+. We show that H. pylori NhaA only has a small acidic shift of its pH-dependent activity profile compared to the other transporters and discuss why a more drastic change in its pH activity profile is not physiologically required.

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2014 – Structural and mechanistic insights into the bacterial amyloid secretion channel CsgG
Orbit 16 Publication in Nature (2014) Authors: Goyal P., Krasteva P.V., Van GervenN., GubelliniF., Van den BroeckI., Troupiotis-TsaïlakiA., Jonckheere W., Péhau-ArnaudetG., Pinkner J.S., ChapmanM.R., Hultgren S.J., Howorka S., FronzesR., Remaut H.

Curli are functional amyloid fibres that constitute the major protein component of the extracellular matrix in pellicle biofilms formed by Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria (predominantly of the α and γ classes). They provide a fitness advantage in pathogenic strains and induce a strong pro-inflammatory response during bacteraemia. Curli formation requires a dedicated protein secretion machinery comprising the outer membrane lipoprotein CsgG and two soluble accessory proteins, CsgE and CsgF. Here we report the X-ray structure of Escherichia coli CsgG in a non-lipidated, soluble form as well as in its native membrane-extracted conformation. CsgG forms an oligomeric transport complex composed of nine anticodon-binding-domain-like units that give rise to a 36-stranded β-barrel that traverses the bilayer and is connected to a cage-like vestibule in the periplasm. The transmembrane and periplasmic domains are separated by a 0.9-nm channel constriction composed of three stacked concentric phenylalanine, asparagine and tyrosine rings that may guide the extended polypeptide substrate through the secretion pore. The specificity factor CsgE forms a nonameric adaptor that binds and closes off the periplasmic face of the secretion channel, creating a 24,000 Å3 pre-constriction chamber. Our structural, functional and electrophysiological analyses imply that CsgG is an ungated, non-selective protein secretion channel that is expected to employ a diffusion-based, entropy-driven transport mechanism.

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2014 – Structure of a Conserved Golgi Complex-targeting Signal in CoroNaVirus Envelope Proteins
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2014) Authors: Li Y., Surya W., Claudine S., Torres J.

CoroNaVirus envelope (CoV E) proteins are ~100-residue polypeptides with at least one channel-forming α-helical transmembrane (TM) domain. The extramembrane C terminal tail contains a completely conserved proline, at the center of a predicted β coil β motif. This hydrophobic motif has been reported to constitute a Golgi-targeting signal, or a second TM domain. However, no structural data for this, or other extramembrane domains in CoV E proteins, is available. Herein, we show that the E protein in the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus has only one TM domain in micelles, whereas the predicted β coil β motif forms a short membrane-bound α helix connected by a disordered loop to the TM domain. However, complementary results suggest that this motif is potentially poised for conformational change, or in dynamic exchange with other conformations.

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2014 – Studying mechanosensitive ion channels with an automated patch clamp
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in European Biophysics Journal (2014) Authors: Barthmes M.,  Mac Donald F.J., Birkner J.P., Brüggemann A., Wahl-Schott C., Koçer A.

Patch clamp electrophysiology is the main technique to study mechanosensitive ion channels (MSCs), however, conventional patch clamping is laborious and success and output depends on the skills of the operator. Even though automated patch systems solve these problems for other ion channels, they could not be applied to MSCs. Here, we report on activation and single channel analysis of a bacterial mechanosensitive ion channel using an automated patch clamp system. With the automated system, we could patch not only giant unilamellar liposomes but also giant Escherichia coli (E. coli) spheroplasts. The tension sensitivity and channel kinetics data obtained in the automated system were in good agreement with that obtained from the conventional patch clamp. The findings will pave the way to high throughput fundamental and drug screening studies on mechanosensitive ion channels.

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2014 – Substrate-bound outward-open state of the betaine transporter BetP provides insights into Na+ coupling
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Nature Communications (2014) Authors: Perez C., Faust B., Mehdipour A.R., Francesconi K.A., Forrest L.R., Ziegler C.

The Na+-coupled betaine symporter BetP shares a highly conserved fold with other sequence unrelated secondary transporters, for example, with neurotransmitter symporters. Recently, we obtained atomic structures of BetP in distinct conformational states, which elucidated parts of its alternating-access mechanism. Here, we report a structure of BetP in a new outward-open state in complex with an anomalous scattering substrate, adding a fundamental piece to an unprecedented set of structural snapshots for a secondary transporter. In combination with molecular dynamics simulations these structural data highlight important features of the sequential formation of the substrate and sodium-binding sites, in which coordinating water molecules play a crucial role. We observe a strictly interdependent binding of betaine and sodium ions during the coupling process. All three sites undergo progressive reshaping and dehydration during the alternating-access cycle, with the most optimal coordination of all substrates found in the closed state.

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2014 – Temperature-sensitive gating of hCx26: high-resolution Raman spectroscopy sheds light on conformational changes
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Biomedical Optics Express (2014) Authors: Kniggendorf A.-K., Meinhardt-Wollweber M., Yuan X., Roth B., Seifert A., Fertig N., Zeilinger C.

The temperature-sensitive gating of human Connexin 26 (hCx26) was analyzed with confocal Raman microscopy. High-resolution Raman spectra covering the spectral range between 400 and 1500 rel. cm−1 with a spectral resolution of 1 cm−1 were fully annotated, revealing notable differences between the spectrum recorded from solubilized hCx26 in Ca2+-buffered POPC at 10°C and any other set of protein conditions (temperature, Ca2+ presence, POPC presence). Spectral components originating from specific amino acids show that the TM1/EL1 parahelix and probably the TM4 trans-membrane helix and the plug domain are involved in the gating process responsible for fully closing the hemichannel.

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2014 – Ultra-stable glass microcraters for on-chip patch clamping
Port-a-Patch Publication in Joyal Society of Chemistry Advances (2014) Authors: Stava E., Shin H.C.,Yu M., Bhat A., Resto P.J., Seshadri A., Williams J.C., Blick R.H.

We report on a single-step fabrication procedure of borosilicate glass micropores surrounded by a smooth microcrater. By inserting a thin air-gap between a borosilicate glass substrate and a reflective layer, we achieve dual-sided laser ablation of the device. The resultant crater provides a smoother, curved surface onto which cells settle during planar patch clamping. Gigaohm seals, which are more easily achievable on these devices as compared to conventional micropores, are achieved by patch clamping human embryonic kidney (HEK 293) cells. Further, the microcraters show enhanced mechanical stability of the planar patch clamped cells during perfusion. We integrate polydimethylsiloxane microfluidic devices with the microcraters and use passive pumping to perfuse the cells. We find that passive pumping increases the pressure within the device by 1.85 Pa. However, due to the enhanced stability of the microcrater, fluidic shearing reduces the seal resistance by only 6.8 MΩ on average, which is less than one percent of the gigaohm seal resistance.

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2015 – A sulfur‐based transport pathway in Cu+‐ATPases
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in EMBO Reports (2015) Authors: Mattle D., Zhang L., Sitsel O., Pedersen L.T., Moncelli M.R., Tadini-Buoninsegni F., Gourdon P., Rees D.C., Nissen P., Meloni G.

Cells regulate copper levels tightly to balance the biogenesis and integrity of copper centers in vital enzymes against toxic levels of copper. PIB‐type Cu+‐ATPases play a central role in copper homeostasis by catalyzing the selective translocation of Cu+ across cellular membranes. Crystal structures of a copper‐free Cu+‐ATPase are available, but the mechanism of Cu+ recognition, binding, and translocation remains elusive. Through X‐ray absorption spectroscopy, ATPase activity assays, and charge transfer measurements on solid‐supported membranes using wild‐type and mutant forms of the Legionella pneumophila Cu+‐ATPase (LpCopA), we identify a sulfur‐lined metal transport pathway. Structural analysis indicates that Cu+ is bound at a high‐affinity transmembrane‐binding site in a trigonal‐planar coordination with the Cys residues of the conserved CPC motif of transmembrane segment 4 (C382 and C384) and the conserved Met residue of transmembrane segment 6 (M717 of the MXXXS motif). These residues are also essential for transport. Additionally, the studies indicate essential roles of other conserved intramembranous polar residues in facilitating copper binding to the high‐affinity site and subsequent release through the exit pathway.

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2015 – A universal mechanism for transport and regulation of CPA sodium proton exchangers
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biological Chemistry (2015) Authors: Călinescu O., Fendler K.

Recent studies performed on a series of Na+/H+ exchangers have led us to postulate a general mechanism for Na+/H+ exchange in the monovalent cation/proton antiporter superfamily. This simple mechanism employs a single binding site for which both substrates compete. The developed kinetic model is self-regulatory, ensuring down-regulation of transport activity at extreme pH, and elegantly explains the pH-dependent activity of Na+/H+ exchangers. The mechanism was experimentally verified and shown to describe both electrogenic and electroneutral exchangers. Using a small number of parameters, exchanger activity can be modeled under different conditions, providing insights into the physiological role of Na+/H+ exchangers.

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2015 – Antibiotic translocation through porins studied in planar lipid bilayers using parallel platforms
Orbit 16, Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Analyst (2015) Authors: Weichbrodt C., Bajaj H., Baaken G., Wang J., Guinot S., Kreir M, Behrends J.C., Winterhalter M., Fertig N.

In general, the method of choice to characterize the conductance properties of channel-forming bacterial porins is electrophysiology. Here, the classical method is to reconstitute single porins into planar lipid bilayers to derive functional information from the observed channel conductance. In addition to an estimated pore size, ion selectivity or transport properties in general are of importance. For the latter, measuring the ion current fluctuation can provide some information about the mode of transport of charged molecules penetrating the proteins. For instance, increasing the external voltage modifies the residence time in the channel: charged molecules with the ability to permeate through channels will travel faster whereas non-permeating molecules get pushed to the constriction zone with enhanced residence time. Here, we are interested in the ability of antibiotics to permeate channels and compare different techniques to reveal fast events.

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2015 – Automated Formation of Lipid Membrane Microarrays for Ionic Single-Molecule Sensing with Protein Nanopores
Orbit 16 Publication in Small (2015) Authors: Del Rio Martinez J.M., Zaitseva E., Petersen S., Baaken G., Behrends J.C.

Efficient use of membrane protein nanopores in ionic single-molecule sensing requires technology for the reliable formation of suspended molecular membranes densely arrayed in formats that allow high-resolution electrical recording. Here, automated formation of bimolecular lipid layers is shown using a simple process where a poly(tetrafluoroethylene)-coated magnetic bar is remotely actuated to perform a turning motion, thereby spreading phospholipid in organic solvent on a nonpolar surface containing a 1 mm2 4 × 4 array of apertures with embedded microelectrodes (microelectrode CaVity array). Parallel and high-resolution single-molecule detection by single nanopores is demonstrated on the resulting bilayer arrays, which are shown to form by a classical but very rapid self-assembly process. The technique provides a robust and scalable solution for the problem of reliable, automated formation of multiple independent lipid bilayers in a dense microarray format, while preserving the favorable electrical properties of the microelectrode CaVity array.

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2015 – Bilayer-Spanning DNA Nanopores with Voltage- Switching between Open and Closed State
Orbit 16 and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in American Chemical Society Nano (2015) Authors: Seifert A., Göpfrich K., Burns J.R., Fertig N., Keyser U.F., Howorka S.

Membrane-spanning nanopores from folded DNA are a recent example of biomimetic man-made nanostructures that can open up applications in biosensing, drug delivery, and nanofluidics. In this report, we generate a DNA nanopore based on the archetypal six-helix-bundle architecture and systematically characterize it via single-channel current recordings to address several fundamental scientific questions in this emerging field. We establish that the DNA pores exhibit two voltage-dependent conductance states. Low transmembrane voltages favor a stable high-conductance level, which corresponds to an unobstructed DNA pore. The expected inner width of the open channel is confirmed by measuring the conductance change as a function of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) size, whereby smaller PEGs are assumed to enter the pore. PEG sizing also clarifies that the main ion-conducting path runs through the membrane-spanning channel lumen as opposed to any proposed gap between the outer pore wall and the lipid bilayer. At higher voltages, the channel shows a main low-conductance state probably caused by electric-field-induced changes of the DNA pore in its conformation or orientation. This voltage-dependent switching between the open and closed states is observed with planar lipid bilayers as well as bilayers mounted on glass nanopipettes. These findings settle a discrepancy between two previously published conductances. By systematically exploring a large space of parameters and answering key questions, our report supports the development of DNA nanopores for nanobiotechnology.

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2015 – Cell-free expression of a functional pore-only sodium channel
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Protein Expression and Purification (2015) Authors: Kovácsová G, Gustavsson E, Wang J, Kreir M, Peuker S, Westenhoff S.

Voltage-gated sodium channels participate in the propagation of action potentials in excitable cells. Eukaryotic NaVs are pseudo homotetrameric polypeptides, comprising four repeats of six transmembrane segments (S1–S6). The first four segments form the voltage-sensing domain and S5 and S6 create the pore domain with the selectivity filter. Prokaryotic NaVs resemble these characteristics, but are truly tetrameric. They can typically be efficiently synthesized in bacteria, but production in vitro with cell-free synthesis has not been demonstrated. Here we report the cell-free expression and purification of a prokaryotic tetrameric pore-only sodium channel. We produced milligram quantities of the functional channel protein as characterized by size-exclusion chromatography, infrared spectroscopy and electrophysiological recordings. Cell-free expression enables advanced site-directed labelling, post-translational modifications, and special solubilization schemes. This enables next-generation biophysical experiments to study the principle of sodium ion selectivity and transport in sodium channels.

Poster PDF
2015 – Complementary automated patch clamp, extracellular field potential and impedance recordings of iPSCs: safety screening tool box for the future
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2015 – Different Ligands of the TRPV3 Cation Channel Cause Distinct Conformational Changes As Revealed by Intrinsic Tryptophan Fluorescence Quenching
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2015) Authors: Billen B., Brams M., Debaveye S., Remeeva A., Alpizar Y.A., Waelkens E., Kreir M., Brüggemann A., Talavera K., Nilius B., Voets T., Ulens C.

TRPV3 is a thermosensitive ion channel primarily expressed in epithelial tissues of the skin, nose, and tongue. The channel has been implicated in environmental thermosensation, hyperalgesia in inflamed tissues, skin sensitization, and hair growth. Although transient receptor potential (TRP) channel research has vastly increased our understanding of the physiological mechanisms of nociception and thermosensation, the molecular mechanics of these ion channels are still largely elusive. In order to better comprehend the functional properties and the mechanism of action in TRP channels, high-resolution three-dimensional structures are indispensable, because they will yield the necessary insights into architectural intimacies at the atomic level. However, structural studies of membrane protein c are currently hampered by difficulties in protein purification and in establishing suitable crystallization conditions. In this report, we present a novel protocol for the purification of membrane proteins, which takes advantage of a C-terminal GFP fusion. Using this protocol, we purified human TRPV3. We show that the purified protein is a fully functional ion channel with properties akin to the native channel using planar patch clamp on reconstituted channels and intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence spectroscopy. Using intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence spectroscopy, we reveal clear distinctions in the molecular interaction of different ligands with the channel. Altogether, this study provides powerful tools to broaden our understanding of ligand interaction with TRPV channels, and the availability of purified human TRPV3 opens up perspectives for further structural and functional studies.

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2015 – Electrophysiological analysis of mammalian cells expressing hERG using automated 384-well-patch-clamp
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) Publication in BCM Pharmacology and Toxicology (2015)  Authors: Haraguchi Y., Ohtsuki A., Oka T., Shimizu T.

Background An in vitro electrophysiological assay system, which can assess compound effects and thus show cardiotoxicity including arrhythmia risks of test drugs, is an essential method in the field of drug development and toxicology. Methods In this study, high-throughput electrophysiological recordings of human embryonic kidney (HEK 293) cells and Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells stably expressing human ether-a-go-go related gene (hERG) were performed utilizing an automated 384-well-patch-clamp system, which records up to 384 cells simultaneously. hERG channel inhibition, which is closely related to a drug-induced QT prolongation and is increasing the risk of sudden cardiac death, was investigated in the high-throughput screening patch-clamp system. Results In the automated patch-clamp measurements performed here, KV currents were investigated with high efficiency. Various hERG channel blockers showed concentration-dependent inhibition, the 50 % inhibitory concentrations (IC50) of those blockers were in good agreement with previous reports. Conclusions The high-throughput patch-clamp system has a high potential in the field of pharmacology, toxicology, and cardiac physiology, and will contribute to the acceleration of pharmaceutical drug development and drug safety testing.

Poster PDF
2015 – Functional Characterization of Prokaryotic NCX by Solid Supported Membrane Technology
SURFE2R N1 poster, Gordon Research Conference 2015
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2015 – Golgi anti-apoptotic proteins are highly conserved ion channels that affect apoptosis and cell migration
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2015) Authors: Carrara G., Saraiva N., Parsons M., Byrne B., Prole D.L., Taylor C.W., Smith G.L.

Golgi anti-apoptotic proteins (GAAPs) are multitransmembrane proteins that are expressed in the Golgi apparatus and are able to homo-oligomerize. They are highly conserved throughout eukaryotes and are present in some prokaryotes and orthopoxviruses. Within eukaryotes, GAAPs regulate the Ca(2+) content of intracellular stores, inhibit apoptosis, and promote cell adhesion and migration. Data presented here demonstrate that purified viral GAAPs (vGAAPs) and human Bax inhibitor 1 form ion channels and that vGAAP from camelpox virus is selective for cations. Mutagenesis of vGAAP, including some residues conserved in the recently solved structure of a related bacterial protein, BsYetJ, altered the conductance (E207Q and D219N) and ion selectivity (E207Q) of the channel. Mutation of residue Glu-207 or -178 reduced the effects of GAAP on cell migration and adhesion without affecting protection from apoptosis. In contrast, mutation of Asp-219 abrogated the anti-apoptotic activity of GAAP but not its effects on cell migration and adhesion. These results demonstrate that GAAPs are ion channels and define residues that contribute to the ion-conducting pore and affect apoptosis, cell adhesion, and migration independently.

Poster PDF
2015 – High Throughput Automated Patch Clamp of Ion Channels Important in Cardiac Safety and Drug Discovery
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384) poster, Chantest Meeting 2015
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2015 – High-Resolution Size-Discrimination of Single Nonionic Synthetic Polymers with a Highly Charged Biological Nanopore
Orbit 16 and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in American Chemical Society Nano (2015) Authors: Baaken G., Halimeh I., Bacri, Pelta J., Oukhaled A., Behrends J.C.

Electrophysiological studies of the interaction of polymers with pores formed by bacterial toxins provide a window on single molecule interaction with proteins in real time, report on the behavior of macromolecules in confinement, and enable label-free single molecule sensing. Using pores formed by the staphylococcal toxin α-hemolysin (aHL), a particularly pertinent observation was that, under high salt conditions (3–4 M KCl), the current through the pore is blocked for periods of hundreds of microseconds to milliseconds by poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) oligomers (degree of polymerization approximately 10–60). Notably, this block showed monomeric sensitivity on the degree of polymerization of individual oligomers, allowing the construction of size or mass spectra from the residual current values. Here, we show that the current through the pore formed by aerolysin (AeL) from Aeromonas hydrophila is also blocked by PEG but with drastic differences in the voltage-dependence of the interaction. In contrast to aHL, AeL strongly binds PEG at high transmembrane voltages. This fact, which is likely related to AeL’s highly charged pore wall, allows discrimination of polymer sizes with particularly high resolution. Multiple applications are now conceivable with this pore to screen various nonionic or charged polymers.

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2015 – Hofmeister effect of anions on calcium translocation by sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Nature Scientific Reports (2015) Authors: Tadini-Buoninsegni F., Moncelli M.R., Peruzzi N., Ninham B.W., Dei L., Lo Nostroa P.

The occurrence of Hofmeister (specific ion) effects in various membrane-related physiological processes is well documented. For example the effect of anions on the transport activity of the ion pump Na+, K+-ATPase has been investigated. Here we report on specific anion effects on the ATP-dependent Ca2+ translocation by the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA). Current measurements following ATP concentration jumps on SERCA-containing vesicles adsorbed on solid supported membranes were carried out in the presence of different potassium salts. We found that monovalent anions strongly interfere with ATP-induced Ca2+ translocation by SERCA, according to their increasing chaotropicity in the Hofmeister series. On the contrary, a significant increase in Ca2+ translocation was observed in the presence of sulphate. We suggest that the anions can affect the conformational transition between the phosphorylated intermediates E1P and E2P of the SERCA cycle. In particular, the stabilization of the E1P conformation by chaotropic anions seems to be related to their adsorption at the enzyme/water and/or at the membrane/water interface, while the more kosmotropic species affect SERCA conformation and functionality by modifying the hydration layers of the enzyme.

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2015 – K2P channel gating mechanisms revealed by structures of TREK-2 and a complex with Prozac
Port-a-Patch Publication in Science (2015) Authors: Dong Y.Y., Pike A.C., Mackenzie A., McClenaghan C., Aryal P., Dong L., Quigley A., Grieben M., Goubin S., Mukhopadhyay S., Ruda G.F., Clausen M.V., Cao L., Brennan P.E., Burgess-Brown N.A., Sansom M.S., Tucker S.J., Carpenter E.P.

TREK-2 (KCNK10/K2P10), a two-pore domain potassium (K2P) channel, is gated by multiple stimuli such as stretch, fatty acids, and pH and by several drugs. However, the mechanisms that control channel gating are unclear. Here we present crystal structures of the human TREK-2 channel (up to 3.4 angstrom resolution) in two conformations and in complex with norfluoxetine, the active metabolite of fluoxetine (Prozac) and a state-dependent blocker of TREK channels. Norfluoxetine binds within intramembrane fenestrations found in only one of these two conformations. Channel activation by arachidonic acid and mechanical stretch involves conversion between these states through movement of the pore-lining helices. These results provide an explanation for TREK channel mechanosensitivity, regulation by diverse stimuli, and possible off-target effects of the serotonin reuptake inhibitor Prozac

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2015 – Novel screening techniques for ion channel targeting drugs
Patchliner, SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) and CardioExcyte 96 Publication in Channels (2015) Authors: Obergrussberger A., Stölzle-Feix S., Becker N., Brüggemann A., Fertig N., Möller C.

Ion channels are integral membrane proteins that regulate the flux of ions across the cell membrane. They are involved in nearly all physiological processes, and malfunction of ion channels has been linked to many diseases. Until recently, high-throughput screening of ion channels was limited to indirect, e.g. fluorescence-based, readout technologies. In the past years, direct label-free biophysical readout technologies by means of electrophysiology have been developed. Planar patch-clamp electrophysiology provides a direct functional label-free readout of ion channel function in medium to high throughput. Further electrophysiology features, including temperature control and higher-throughput instruments, are continually being developed. Electrophysiological screening in a 384-well format has recently become possible. Advances in chip and microfluidic design, as well as in cell preparation and handling, have allowed challenging cell types to be studied by automated patch clamp. Assays measuring action potentials in stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes, relevant for cardiac safety screening, and neuronal cells, as well as a large number of different ion channels, including fast ligand-gated ion channels, have successfully been established by automated patch clamp. Impedance and multi-electrode array measurements are particularly suitable for studying cardiomyocytes and neuronal cells within their physiological network, and to address more complex physiological questions. This article discusses recent advances in electrophysiological technologies available for screening ion channel function and regulation.

Tutorial video
2015 – Orbit mini Membrane Preparation Tutorial Video
Short introduction how to prepare membranes on the Orbit mini

Simultaneous recording from four lipid bilayers

Tutorial video
2015 – Orbit mini Tutorial Video
Short introduction on the Orbit mini

"The functionality of the Orbit mini is just incredible! Learning to use it takes only a few moments. Setting up an experiment, painting 4 individual bilayers and getting data so quickly, makes me feel almost sad. As I cannot deny the notion wasting a lot of time as PhD student working with different technology"
Tom Götze, Nanion Technologies

Poster PDF
2015 – Organellar Transporters and Ion Channels – How to access their electrophysiology by using the SURFE2R technology and Planar Patch Clamp
SURFE2R N1, SyncroPatch 96 (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384) and Port-a-Patch poster, GRC - Organellar Channels and Transporters 2015
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2015 – Quantification of Fluoroquinolone Uptake through the Outer Membrane Channel OmpF of Escherichia coli
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Journal of the American Chemical Society (2015) Authors: Cama J., Bajaj H., Pagliara S., Maier T., Braun Y., Winterhalter M., Keyser U.F.

Decreased drug accumulation is a common cause of antibiotic resistance in microorganisms. However, there are few reliable general techniques capable of quantifying drug uptake through bacterial membranes. We present a semiquantitative optofluidic assay for studying the uptake of autofluorescent drug molecules in single liposomes. We studied the effect of the Escherichia coli outer membrane channel OmpF on the accumulation of the fluoroquinolone antibiotic, norfloxacin, in proteoliposomes. Measurements were performed at pH 5 and pH 7, corresponding to two different charge states of norfloxacin that bacteria are likely to encounter in the human gastrointestinal tract. At both pH values, the porins significantly enhance drug permeation across the proteoliposome membranes. At pH 5, where norfloxacin permeability across pure phospholipid membranes is low, the porins increase drug permeability by 50-fold on average. We estimate a flux of about 10 norfloxacin molecules per second per OmpF trimer in the presence of a 1 mM concentration gradient of norfloxacin. We also performed single channel electrophysiology measurements and found that the application of transmembrane voltages causes an electric field driven uptake in addition to concentration driven diffusion. We use our results to propose a physical mechanism for the pH mediated change in bacterial susceptibility to fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

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2015 – Scalable Electrophysiological Investigation of iPS Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes Obtained by a Lentiviral Purification Strategy
Patchliner Publication in Journal of Clinical Medicine (2015) Authors: Friedrichs S., Malan D., Voss Y., Sasse P.

Disease-specific induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can be generated from patients and differentiated into functional cardiomyocytes for characterization of the disease and for drug screening. In order to obtain pure cardiomyocytes for automated electrophysiological investigation, we here report a novel non-clonal purification strategy by using lentiviral gene transfer of a puromycin resistance gene under the control of a cardiac-specific promoter. We have applied this method to our previous reported wild-type and long QT syndrome 3 (LQTS 3)-specific mouse iPS cells and obtained a pure cardiomyocyte population. These cells were investigated by action potential analysis with manual and automatic planar patch clamp technologies, as well as by recording extracellular field potentials using a microelectrode array system. Action potentials and field potentials showed the characteristic prolongation at low heart rates in LQTS 3-specific, but not in wild-type iPS cell-derived cardiomyocytes. Hence, LQTS 3-specific cardiomyocytes can be purified from iPS cells with a lentiviral strategy, maintain the hallmarks of the LQTS 3 disease and can be used for automated electrophysiological characterization and drug screening

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2015 – Structural and Functional Studies of NirC from Salmonella typhimurium
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Methods in Enzymology (2015) Authors: Rycovska-Blume A., Lü W., Andrade S., Fendler K., Einsle O.

NirC is a pentameric transport system for monovalent anions that is expressed in the context of assimilatory nitrite reductase NirBD in a wide variety of enterobacterial species. A NirC pentamer contains individual pores in each protomer that mediate the passage of at least the nitrite (NO2-) and nitrate (NO3-) anions. As a member of the formate/nitrite transporter family of membrane transport proteins, NirC shares a range of structural and functional features with the formate channel FocA and the hydrosulfide channel AsrD (HSC). NirC from the enteropathogen Salmonella typhimurium has been studied by X-ray crystallography, proton uptake assays, and different electrophysiological techniques, and the picture that has emerged shows a fast and versatile transport system for nitrite that doubles as a defense system during the enteric life of the bacterium. Structural and functional assays are described, which shed light on the transport mechanism of this important molecular machine. 

Poster PDF
2015 – Studying Electrogenic Transporters of the SLC Family in a Parallel Way Utilizing Solid Supported Membrane Technology
SURFE2R N96 poster (a predecessor model of the SURFE2R 96SE) Biophysics 2015
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2015 – The application of the Escherichia coli giant spheroplast for drug screening with automated planar patch clamp system
Port-a-Patch Publication in Biotechnology Reports (2015) Authors: Kikuchi K., Sugiura M., Nishizawa-Harada C., Kimura T. 

KV2.1, the voltage-gated ion channel, is ubiquitously expressed in variety of tissues and dysfunction of this ion channel is responsible for multiple diseases. Electrophysiological properties of ion channels are so far characterized with eukaryotic cells using the manual patch clamp which requires skilful operators and expensive equipments. In this research, we created a simple and sensitive drug screen method using bacterial giant spheroplasts and the automated patch clamp which does not require special skills. We expressed a eukaryotic voltage-gated ion channel KV2.1 in Escherichia coli using prokaryotic codon, and prepared giant spheroplasts large enough for the patch clamp. Human KV2.1 currents were successfully recorded from giant spheroplasts with the automated system, and KV2.1-expressed E. coli spheroplasts could steadily reacted to the dose–response assay with TEA and 4-AP. Collectively, our results indicate for the first time that the bacterial giant spheroplast can be applied for practical pharmaceutical assay using the automated patch clamp.

Poster PDF
2015 – The backstage pass to study your favorite TRP channel
Port-a-Patch, Patchliner and SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384) poster, TRP Meeting 2015
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2015 – The Functional Property Changes of Muscular NaV1.4 and Cardiac NaV1.5 Induced by Scorpion Toxin BmK AGP-SYPU1 Mutants Y42F and Y5F
Port-a-Patch Publication in Biochemistry (2015) Authors: Meng x., Xu Y., Zhao M., Wang F., Ma Y., Jin Y., Liu Y., Song Y., Zhang J.

Scorpion toxins are invaluable therapeutic leads and pharmacological tools which influence the voltage-gated sodium channels. However, the details were still unclear about the structure–function relationship of scorpion toxins on VGSC subtypes. In the previous study, we reported one α-type scorpion toxin Bmk AGP-SYPU1 and its two mutants (Y5F and Y42F) which had been demonstrated to ease pain in mice acetic acid writhing test. However, the function of Bmk AGP-SYPU1 on VGSCs is still unknown. In this study, we examined the effects of BmK AGP-SYPU1 and its two mutants (Y5F and Y42F) on hNaV1.4 and hNaV1.5 heterologously expressed CHO cell lines by using Na+-specialized fluorescent dye and whole-cell patch clamp. The data showed that BmK AGP-SYPU1 displayed as an activator of hNaV1.4 and hNaV1.5, which might indeed contribute to its biotoxicity to muscular and cardiac system and exhibited the functional properties of both the α-type and β-type scorpion toxin. Notably, Y5F mutant exhibited lower activatory effects on hNaV1.4 and hNaV1.5 compared with BmK AGP-SYPU1. Y42F was an enhanced activator and confirmed that the conserved Tyr42 was the key amino acid involved in bioactivity or biotoxicity. These data provided a deep insight into the structure–function relationship of BmK AGP-SYPU1, which may be the guidance for engineering α-toxin with high selectivity on VGSC subtypes.

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2015 – The two-pore domain K2P channel TASK2 drives human NK-cell proliferation and cytolytic function
Patchliner Publication in European Journal of Immunology (2015) Authors: Schulte-Mecklenbeck A., Bittner S., Ehling P., Döring F., Wischmeyer E., Breuer J., Herrmann A.M., Wiendl H., Meuth S.G., Gross C.C.

Natural killer (NK) cells are a subset of cytotoxic lymphocytes that recognize and kill tumor‐ and virus‐infected cells without prior stimulation. Killing of target cells is a multistep process including adhesion to target cells, formation of an immunological synapse, and polarization and release of cytolytic granules. The role of distinct potassium channels in this orchestrated process is still poorly understood. The current study reveals that in addition to the voltage‐gated KV1.3 and the calcium‐activated KCa3.1 channels, human NK cells also express the two‐pore domain K2P channel TASK2 (TWIK‐related acid‐sensitive potassium channel). Expression of Task2 varies among NK‐cell subsets and depends on their differentiation and activation state. Despite its different expression in TASK2highCD56brightCD16− and TASK2lowCD56dimCD16+ NK cells, TASK2 is involved in cytokine‐induced proliferation and cytolytic function of both subsets. TASK2 is crucial for leukocyte functional antigen (LFA‐1) mediated adhesion of both resting and cytokine‐activated NK cells to target cells, an early step in killing of target cells. With regard to the following mechanism, TASK2 plays a role in release of cytotoxic granules by resting, but not IL‐15‐induced NK cells. Taken together, our data exhibit two‐pore potassium channels as important players in NK‐cell activation and effector function.

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2015 – Thyronamine induces TRPM8 channel activation in human conjunctival epithelial cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Cellular Signalling (2015) Authors: Khajavi N, Reinach PS, Slavi N, Skrzypski M, Lucius A, Strauß O, Köhrle J, Mergler S.

3-Iodothyronamine (T1AM), an endogenous thyroid hormone (TH) metabolite, induces numerous responses including a spontaneously reversible body temperature decline. As such an effect is associated in the eye with increases in basal tear flow and thermosensitive transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) channel activation, we determined in human conjunctival epithelial cells (IOBA-NHC) if T1AM also acts as a cooling agent to directly affect TRPM8 activation at a constant temperature. RT-PCR and quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) along with immunocytochemistry probed for TRPM8 gene and protein expression whereas functional activity was evaluated by comparing the effects of T1AM with those of TRPM8 mediators on intracellular Ca2 + ([Ca2 +]i) and whole-cell currents. TRPM8 gene and protein expression was evident and icilin (20 μM), a TRPM8 agonist, increased Ca2 + influx as well as whole-cell currents whereas BCTC (10 μM), a TRPM8 antagonist, suppressed these effects. Similarly, either temperature lowering below 23 °C or T1AM (1 μM) induced Ca2 + transients that were blocked by this antagonist. TRPM8 activation by both 1 µM T1AM and 20 μM icilin prevented capsaicin (CAP) (20 μM) from inducing increases in Ca2 + influx through TRP vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) activation, whereas BCTC did not block this response. CAP (20 μM) induced a 2.5-fold increase in IL-6 release whereas during exposure to 20 μM capsazepine this rise was completely blocked. Similarly, T1AM (1 μM) prevented this response. Taken together, T1AM like icilin is a cooling agent since they both directly elicit TRPM8 activation at a constant temperature. Moreover, there is an inverse association between changes in TRPM8 and TRPV1 activity since these cooling agents blocked both CAP-induced TRPV1 activation and downstream rises in IL-6 release.

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2016 – A biomimetic DNA-made channel for the ligand-controlled and selective transport of small-molecule cargo through a biological membrane
Orbit 16 Publication in Nature Nanotechnology (2016) Authors: Burns J.R., Seifert A., Fertig N, Howorka S.

Biological ion channels are molecular gatekeepers that control transport across cell membranes. Recreating the functional principle of such systems and extending it beyond physiological ionic cargo is both scientifically exciting and technologically relevant to sensing or drug release. However, fabricating synthetic channels with a predictable structure remains a significant challenge. Here, we use DNA as a building material to create an atomistically determined molecular valve that can control when and which cargo is transported across a bilayer. The valve, which is made from seven concatenated DNA strands, can bind a specific ligand and, in response, undergo a nanomechanical change to open up the membrane-spanning channel. It is also able to distinguish with high selectivity the transport of small organic molecules that differ by the presence of a positively or negatively charged group. The DNA device could be used for controlled drug release and the building of synthetic cell-like or logic ionic networks

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2016 – Alamethicin Supramolecular Organization in Lipid Membranes from 19F Solid-State NMR
Orbit 16 Publication in Biophysical Journal (2016) Authors: Salnikov E.S., Raya J., De Zotti M., Zaitseva E., Peggion C., Ballano G., Toniolo C., Raap J., Bechinger B.

Alamethicins (ALMs) are antimicrobial peptides of fungal origin. Their sequences are rich in hydrophobic amino acids and strongly interact with lipid membranes, where they cause a well-defined increase in conductivity. Therefore, the peptides are thought to form transmembrane helical bundles in which the more hydrophilic residues line a water-filled pore. Whereas the peptide has been well characterized in terms of secondary structure, membrane topology, and interactions, much fewer data are available regarding the quaternary arrangement of the helices within lipid bilayers. A new, to our knowledge, fluorine-labeled ALM derivative was prepared and characterized when reconstituted into phospholipid bilayers. As a part of these studies, C19F3-labeled compounds were characterized and calibrated for the first time, to our knowledge, for 19F solid-state NMR distance and oligomerization measurements by centerband-only detection of exchange (CODEX) experiments, which opens up a large range of potential labeling schemes. The 19F-19F CODEX solid-state NMR experiments performed with ALM in POPC lipid bilayers and at peptide/lipid ratios of 1:13 are in excellent agreement with molecular-dynamics calculations of dynamic pentameric assemblies. When the peptide/lipid ratio was lowered to 1:30, ALM was found in the dimeric form, indicating that the supramolecular organization is tuned by equilibria that can be shifted by changes in environmental conditions.

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2016 – Automated Electrophysiological and Pharmacological Evaluation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes
Patchliner Publication in Stem Cells and Development (2016) Authors: Rajamohan D., Kalra S., Hoang M.D., George V., Staniforth A., Russell H., Yang X., Denning C.

Automated planar patch clamp systems are widely used in drug evaluation studies because of their ability to provide accurate, reliable, and reproducible data in a high-throughput manner. Typically, CHO and HEK tumorigenic cell lines overexpressing single ion channels are used since they can be harvested as high-density, homogenous, single-cell suspensions. While human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hPSC-CMs) are physiologically more relevant, these cells are fragile, have complex culture requirements, are inherently heterogeneous, and are expensive to produce, which has restricted their use on automated patch clamp (APC) devices. Here, we used high efficiency differentiation protocols to produce cardiomyocytes from six different hPSC lines for analysis on the Patchliner (Nanion Technologies GmbH) APC platform. We developed a two-step cell preparation protocol that yielded cell catch rates and whole-cell breakthroughs of ∼80%, with ∼40% of these cells allowing electrical activity to be recorded. The protocol permitted formation of long-lasting (>15 min), high quality seals (>2 GΩ) in both voltage- and current-clamp modes. This enabled density of sodium, calcium, and potassium currents to be evaluated, along with dose–response curves to their respective channel inhibitors, tetrodotoxin, nifedipine, and E-4031. Thus, we show the feasibility of using the Patchliner platform for automated evaluation of the electrophysiology and pharmacology of hPSC-CMs, which will enable considerable increase in throughput for reliable and efficient drug evaluation.

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2016 – Automated Patch Clamp Meets High-Throughput Screening: 384 Cells Recorded in Parallel on a Planar Patch Clamp Module
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) Publication in Journal of Lab Automation (2016) Authors: Obergrussberger A., Brüggemann A., Goetze T.A., Rapedius M., Haarmann C., Rinke I., Becker N., Oka T., Ohtsuki A., Stengel T., Vogel M., Steindl J., Mueller M., Stiehler J., George M., Fertig N.

We have developed an automated patch clamp module for high-throughput ion channel screening, recording from 384 cells simultaneously. The module is incorporated into a laboratory pipetting robot and uses a 384-channel pipettor head for application of cells and compounds. The module contains 384 amplifier channels for fully parallel recordings using a digital amplifier. Success rates for completed experiments (1- to 4-point concentration–response curves for cells satisfying defined quality control parameters) of greater than 85% have been routinely achieved with, for example, HEK, CHO, and RBL cell lines expressing hNaV1.7, hERG, Kir2.1, GABA, or glutamate receptors. Pharmacology experiments are recorded and analyzed using specialized software, and the pharmacology of hNaV1.7 and hERG is described. Fast external solution exchange rates of 50 ms are demonstrated using Kir2.1. Short exposure times are achieved by stacking the external solutions inside the pipette of the robot to minimize exposure of the ligand on the receptor. This ensures that ligand-gated ion channels, for example, GABA and glutamate described in this report, can be reproducibly recorded. Stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes have also been used with success rates of 52% for cells that have a seal resistance of >200 MΩ, and recordings of voltage-gated Na+ and Ca2+ are shown.

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2016 – Charge translocation by mitochondrial NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) from Yarrowia lipolytica measured on solid-supported membranes
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (2016) Authors: Siebels I., Dröse S.

The charge translocation by purified reconstituted mitochondrial complex I from the obligate aerobic yeast Yarrowia lipolytica was investigated after adsorption of proteoliposomes to solid-supported membranes. In presence of n-decylubiquinone (DBQ), pulses of NADH provided by rapid solution exchange induced charge transfer reflecting steady-state pumping activity of the reconstituted enzyme. The signal amplitude increased with time, indicating 'deactive→active' transition of the Yarrowia complex I. Furthermore, an increase of the membrane-conductivity after addition of 5-(N-ethyl-N-isopropyl)amiloride (EIPA) was detected which questiones the use of EIPA as an inhibitor of the Na+/H+-antiporter-like subunits of complex I. This investigation shows that electrical measurements on solid-supported membranes are a suitable method to analyze transport events and 'active/deactive' transition of mitochondrial complex I.

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2016 – Conductance and Capacity of Plain Lipid Membranes under Conditions of Variable Gravity
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Journal of Biomedical Science and Engineering (2016) Authors: Sieber M., Kaltenbach S., Hanke W. and Kohn F.P.M

Biological cell membranes are complex structures containing mainly lipids and proteins. Functional aspects of such membranes are usually attributed to membrane integral proteins. However, it is well established that parameters of the lipid matrix are modifying the function of proteins. Additionally, electrical capacity and conductance of the plain lipid matrix of membranes are contributing directly to cellular functions as there is, for example, the propagation of action potentials. Accordingly the dependence of these parameters on changes of gravity might be important in the field of life sciences under space conditions. In this study consequently we have performed experiments in parabolic flight campaigns utilizing the patch-clamp technology to investigate conductance and capacity of plain lipid vesicle membranes under conditions of changing gravity. Both capacity and conductance were found to be gravity dependent. The changes in capacity could be contributed to changes in membrane geometry. Significant permeability in plain lipid membranes could be only observed at high potentials, where spontaneous current fluctuations occurred. The probability of these fluctuations was gravity dependent.

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2016 – Coupling Data Mining and Laboratory Experiments to Discover Drug Interactions Causing QT Prolongation
Patchliner Publication in Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2016) Authors: Lorberbaum T., Sampson K.J., Chang J.B., Iyer V., Woosley R.L., Kass R.S., Tatonetti N.P.

Background:QT interval-prolonging drug-drug interactions (QT-DDIs) may increase the risk of life-threatening arrhythmia. Despite guidelines for testing from regulatory agencies, these interactions are usually discovered after drugs are marketed and may go undiscovered for years.Objectives:Using a combination of adverse event reports, electronic health records (EHR), and laboratory experiments, the goal of this study was to develop a data-driven pipeline for discovering QT-DDIs.Methods:1.8 million adverse event reports were mined for signals indicating a QT-DDI. Using 1.6 million electrocardiogram results from 380,000 patients in our institutional EHR, these putative interactions were either refuted or corroborated. In the laboratory, we used patch-clamp electrophysiology to measure the human ether-à-go-go-related gene (hERG) channel block (the primary mechanism by which drugs prolong the QT interval) to evaluate our top candidate.Results:Both direct and indirect signals in the adverse event reports provided evidence that the combination of ceftriaxone (a cephalosporin antibiotic) and lansoprazole (a proton-pump inhibitor) will prolong the QT interval. In the EHR, we found that patients taking both ceftriaxone and lansoprazole had significantly longer QTc intervals (up to 12 ms in white men) and were 1.4 times more likely to have a QTc interval above 500 ms. In the laboratory, we found that, in combination and at clinically relevant concentrations, these drugs blocked the hERG channel. As a negative control, we evaluated the combination of lansoprazole and cefuroxime (another cephalosporin), which lacked evidence of an interaction in the adverse event reports. We found no significant effect of this pair in either the EHR or in the electrophysiology experiments. Class effect analyses suggested this interaction was specific to lansoprazole combined with ceftriaxone but not with other cephalosporins.Conclusions:Coupling data mining and laboratory experiments is an efficient method for identifying QT-DDIs. Combination therapy of ceftriaxone and lansoprazole is associated with increased risk of acquired long QT syndrome.

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2016 – Defined Medium Conditions for the Induction and Expansion of Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Retinal Pigment Epithelium
Port-a-Patch Publication in Stem Cell Reviews and Reports (2016) Authors: Lidgerwood G.E., Lim S.Y., Crombie D.E., Ali R., Gill K.P., Hernández D., Kie J., Conquest A., Waugh H.S., Wong R.C., Liang H.H., Hewitt A.W., Davidson K.C., Pébay A.

We demonstrate that a combination of Noggin, Dickkopf-1, Insulin Growth Factor 1 and basic Fibroblast Growth Factor, promotes the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. We describe an efficient one-step approach that allows the generation of RPE cells from both human embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells within 40–60 days without the need for manual excision, floating aggregates or imbedded cysts. Compared to methods that rely on spontaneous differentiation, our protocol results in faster differentiation into RPE cells. This pro-retinal culture medium promotes the growth of functional RPE cells that exhibit key characteristics of the RPE including pigmentation, polygonal morphology, expression of mature RPE markers, electrophysiological membrane potential and the ability to phagocytose photoreceptor outer segments. This protocol can be adapted for feeder, feeder-free and serum-free conditions. This method thereby provides a rapid and simplified production of RPE cells for downstream applications such as disease modelling and drug screening.

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2016 – Distinct regions that control ion selectivity and calcium-dependent activation in the bestrophin ion channel
Port-a-Patch Publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2016) Authors: Vaisey G., Miller A.N., Long S.B.

Abstract: Cytoplasmic calcium (Ca2+) activates the bestrophin anion channel, allowing chloride ions to flow down their electrochemical gradient. Mutations in bestrophin 1 (BEST1) cause macular degenerative disorders. Previously, we determined an X-ray structure of chicken BEST1 that revealed the architecture of the channel. Here, we present electrophysiological studies of purified wild-type and mutant BEST1 channels and an X-ray structure of a Ca2+-independent mutant. From these experiments, we identify regions of BEST1 responsible for Ca2+ activation and ion selectivity. A “Ca2+ clasp” within the channel’s intracellular region acts as a sensor of cytoplasmic Ca2+. Alanine substitutions within a hydrophobic “neck” of the pore, which widen it, cause the channel to be constitutively active, irrespective of Ca2+. We conclude that the primary function of the neck is as a “gate” that controls chloride permeation in a Ca2+-dependent manner. In contrast to what others have proposed, we find that the neck is not a major contributor to the channel’s ion selectivity. We find that mutation of a cytosolic “aperture” of the pore does not perturb the Ca2+ dependence of the channel or its preference for anions over cations, but its mutation dramatically alters relative permeabilities among anions. The data suggest that the aperture functions as a size-selective filter that permits the passage of small entities such as partially dehydrated chloride ions while excluding larger molecules such as amino acids. Thus, unlike ion channels that have a single “selectivity filter,” in bestrophin, distinct regions of the pore govern anion-vs.-cation selectivity and the relative permeabilities among anions.Significance:BEST1 is a Ca2+-activated chloride channel found in a variety of cell types that allows chloride to traverse the plasma membrane. Mutations in BEST1 can cause macular degeneration. The mechanisms for anion selectivity and Ca2+-dependent activation of BEST1 are unknown. Here, we show that a hydrophobic “neck” region of the channel’s pore does not play a major role in ion selectivity but acts as an effective gate, responding to Ca2+ binding at a cytosolic sensor. Mutation of a cytosolic “aperture” dramatically affects relative permeabilities among anions. These insights help rationalize how disease-causing mutations in BEST1 affect channel behavior and contribute to a broader understanding of ion channel gating and selectivity mechanisms.

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2016 – Electrogenic Cation Binding in the Electroneutral Na+/H+ Antiporter of Pyrococcus abyssi
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2016) Authors: Călinescu O., Linder M., Wöhlert D., Yildiz Ö., Kühlbrandt W., Fendler K.

Na+/H+ antiporters in the CPA1 branch of the cation proton antiporter family drive the electroneutral exchange of H+ against Na+ ions and ensure pH homeostasis in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. Although their transport cycle is overall electroneutral, specific partial reactions are electrogenic. Here, we present an electrophysiological study of the PaNhaP Na+/H+ antiporter from Pyrococcus abyssi reconstituted into liposomes. Positive transient currents were recorded upon addition of Na+ to PaNhaP proteoliposomes, indicating a reaction where positive charge is rapidly displaced into the proteoliposomes with a rate constant of k >200 s-1 We attribute the recorded currents to an electrogenic reaction that includes Na+ binding and possibly occlusion. Subsequently, positive charge is transported out of the cell associated with H+ binding, so that the overall reaction is electroneutral. We show that the differences in pH profile and Na+ affinity of PaNhaP and the related MjNhaP1 from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii can be attributed to an additional negatively charged glutamate residue in PaNhaP. The results are discussed in the context of the physiological function of PaNhaP and other microbial Na+/H+ exchangers. We propose that both, electroneutral and electrogenic Na+/H+ antiporters, represent a carefully tuned self-regulatory system, which drives the cytoplasmic pH back to neutral after any deviation.

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2016 – Electrophysiological characterization of the archaeal transporter NCX_Mj using solid supported membrane technology
SURFE2R N1 and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Journal of General Physiology (2016) Authors: Barthmes M., Liao J., Jiang Y., Brüggemann A., Wahl-Schott C.

Sodium–calcium exchangers (NCXs) are membrane transporters that play an important role in Ca2+ homeostasis and Ca2+ signaling. The recent crystal structure of NCX_Mj, a member of the NCX family from the archaebacterium Methanococcus jannaschii, provided insight into the atomistic details of sodium–calcium exchange. Here, we extend these findings by providing detailed functional data on purified NCX_Mj using solid supported membrane (SSM)–based electrophysiology, a powerful but unexploited tool for functional studies of electrogenic transporter proteins. We show that NCX_Mj is highly selective for Na+, whereas Ca2+ can be replaced by Mg2+ and Sr2+ and that NCX_Mj can be inhibited by divalent ions, particularly Cd2+. By directly comparing the apparent affinities of Na+ and Ca2+ for NCX_Mj with those for human NCX1, we show excellent agreement, indicating a strong functional similarity between NCX_Mj and its eukaryotic isoforms. We also provide detailed instructions to facilitate the adaption of this method to other electrogenic transporter proteins. Our findings demonstrate that NCX_Mj can serve as a model for the NCX family and highlight several possible applications for SSM-based electrophysiology.

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2016 – Functional analysis of Torpedo californica nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in multiple activation states by SSM-based electrophysiology
SURFE2R N96 (predecessor model of SURFE2R 96SE) Publication in Toxicological Letters (2016) Authors: Niessen K.V., Muschik S., Langguth F., Rappenglück S., Seeger T., Thiermann H., Worek F.

Organophosphorus compounds (OPC), i.e. nerve agents or pesticides, are highly toxic due to their strong inhibition potency against acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Inhibited AChE results in accumulation of acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft and thus the desensitisation of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) in the postsynaptic membrane is provoked. Direct targeting of nAChR to reduce receptor desensitisation might be an alternative therapeutic approach. For drug discovery, functional properties of potent therapeutic candidates need to be investigated in addition to affinity properties. Solid supported membrane (SSM)-based electrophysiology is useful for functional characterisation of ligand-gated ion channels like nAChRs, as charge translocations via capacitive coupling of the supporting membrane can be measured. By varying the agonist (carbamoylcholine) concentration, different functional states of the nAChR were initiated. Using plasma membrane preparations obtained from Torpedo californica electric organ, functional properties of selected nAChR ligands and non-oxime bispyridinium compounds were investigated. Depending on overall-size, the bispyridinium compounds enhanced or inhibited cholinergic signals induced by 100 μM carbamoylcholine. Applying excessive concentrations of the agonist carbamoylcholine provoked desensitisation of the nAChRs, whereas addition of bispyridinium compounds bearing short alkyl linkers exhibited functional recovery of previously desensitised nAChRs. The results suggest that these non-oxime bispyridinium compounds possibly interacted with nAChR subtypes in a manner of a positive allosteric modulator (PAM). The described newly developed functional assay is a valuable tool for the assessment of functional properties of potential compounds such as nAChR modulating ligands, which might be a promising approach in the therapeutically treatment of OPC-poisonings.

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2016 – Functional characterization of p7 viroporin from hepatitis C virus produced in a cell-free expression system
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Protein Expression and Purification (2016) Authors: Soranzo T., Cortès S., Gilde F., Kreir M., Picart C., Lenormand J.-L.

Using a cell-free expression system we produced the p7 viroporin embedded into a lipid bilayer in a single-step manner. The protein quality was assessed using different methods. We examined the channel forming activity of p7 and verified its inhibition by 5-(N,N-Hexamethylene) amiloride (HMA). Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) experiments further showed that when p7 was inserted into synthetic liposomes, the protein displayed a native-like conformation similar to p7 obtained from other sources. Photoactivatable amino acid analogs used for p7 protein synthesis enabled oligomerization state analysis in liposomes by cross-linking. Therefore, these findings emphasize the quality of the cell-free produced p7 proteoliposomes which can benefit the field of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) protein production and characterization and also provide tools for the development of new inhibitors to reinforce our therapeutic arsenal against HCV.

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2016 – Functional characterization of solute carrier (SLC) 26/sulfate permease (SulP) proteins in membrane mimetic systems
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Biomembranes (2016) Authors: Srinivasan L., Baars T.L., Fendler K., Michel H.

Solute carrier (SLC) 26 or sulfate permease (SulP) anion transporters, belong to a phylogenetically ancient family of secondary active transporters. Members of the family are involved in several human genetic diseases and cell physiological processes. Despite their importance, the substrates for transport by this family of proteins have been poorly characterized. In this study, recombinant StmYchM/DauA, a SulP from Salmonella typhimurium was purified to homogeneity and functionally characterized. StmYchM/DauA was found to be a dimer in solution as determined by size exclusion chromatography coupled to multiple angle light scattering. We report a functional characterization of the SulP proteins in two membrane mimetic systems and reveal a dual nature of anionic substrates for SulP. StmYchM/DauA functionally incorporated into nanodiscs could bind fumarate with millimolar affinities (KD = 4.6 ± 0.29 mM) as detected by intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence quench studies. In contrast, electrophysiological experiments performed in reconstituted liposomes indicate a strong bicarbonate transport in the presence of chloride but no detectable electrogenic fumarate transport. We hence suggest that while SulP acts as an electrogenic bicarbonate transporter, fumarate may serve as substrate under different conditions indicating multiple functions of SulP.

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2016 – Human EAG channels are directly modulated by PIP2 as revealed by electrophysiological and optical interference investigations
Patchliner Publication in Scientific Reports (2016) Authors: Han B., He K., Cai C., Tang Y., Yang L., Heinemann S.H., Hoshi T., Hou S.

Voltage-gated ether à go-go (EAG) K+ channels are expressed in various types of cancer cells and also in the central nervous system. Aberrant overactivation of human EAG1 (hEAG1) channels is associated with cancer and neuronal disorders such as Zimmermann-Laband and Temple-Baraitser syndromes. Although hEAG1 channels are recognized as potential therapeutic targets, regulation of their functional properties is only poorly understood. Here, we show that the membrane lipid phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) is a potent inhibitory gating modifier of hEAG1 channels. PIP2 inhibits the channel activity by directly binding to a short N-terminal segment of the channel important for Ca2+/calmodulin (CaM) binding as evidenced by bio-layer interferometry measurements. Conversely, depletion of endogenous PIP2 either by serotonin-induced phospholipase C (PLC) activation or by a rapamycin-induced translocation system enhances the channel activity at physiological membrane potentials, suggesting that PIP2 exerts a tonic inhibitory influence. Our study, combining electrophysiological and direct binding assays, demonstrates that hEAG1 channels are subject to potent inhibitory modulation by multiple phospholipids and suggests that manipulations of the PIP2 signaling pathway may represent a strategy to treat hEAG1 channel-associated diseases.

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2016 – Human T cells in silico: Modelling their electrophysiological behaviour in health and disease
Patchliner Publication in Journal of Theoretical Biology (2016) Authors: Ehling P., Meuth P., Eichinger P., Hermann A.M., Bittner S., Pawlowski M., Pankratz S., Herty M., Budde T., Meuth S.G.

Although various types of ion channels are known to have an impact on human T cell effector functions, their exact mechanisms of influence are still poorly understood. The patch clamp technique is a well-established method for the investigation of ion channels in neurons and T cells. However, small cell sizes and limited selectivity of pharmacological blockers restrict the value of this experimental approach. Building a realistic T cell computer model therefore can help to overcome these kinds of limitations as well as reduce the overall experimental effort. The computer model introduced here was fed off ion channel parameters from literature and new experimental data. It is capable of simulating the electrophysiological behaviour of resting and activated human CD4+ T cells under basal conditions and during extracellular acidification. The latter allows for the very first time to assess the electrophysiological consequences of tissue acidosis accompanying most forms of inflammation.

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2016 – Human TRPA1 is a heat sensor displaying intrinsic U-shaped thermosensitivity
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Scientific Reports (2016) Authors: Moparthi L., Kichko T. I., Eberhardt M., Högestätt E. D., Kjellbom P., Johanson U., Reeh P., W., Leffler A., Filipovic M. R., Zygmunt P. M.

Thermosensitive Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels are believed to respond to either cold or heat. In the case of TRP subtype A1 (TRPA1), there seems to be a species-dependent divergence in temperature sensation as non-mammalian TRPA1 is heat-sensitive whereas mammalian TRPA1 is sensitive to cold. It has been speculated but never experimentally proven that TRPA1 and other temperature-sensitive ion channels have the inherent capability of responding to both cold and heat. Here we show that redox modification and ligands affect human TRPA1 (hTRPA1) cold and heat sensing properties in lipid bilayer and whole-cell patch-clamp recordings as well as heat-evoked TRPA1-dependent calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) release from mouse trachea. Studies of purified hTRPA1 intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence, in the absence of lipid bilayer, consolidate hTRPA1 as an intrinsic bidirectional thermosensor that is modified by the redox state and ligands. Thus, the heat sensing property of TRPA1 is conserved in mammalians, in which TRPA1 may contribute to sensing warmth and uncomfortable heat in addition to noxious cold.

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2016 – Identification of Drug-Drug Interactions In Vitro: A Case Study Evaluating the Effects of Sofosbuvir and Amiodarone on hiPSC-Derived Cardiomyocytes
CardioExcyte 96 Publication in Toxicological Sciences (2016)Authors: Millard DC, Strock CJ, Carlson CB, Aoyama N, Juhasz K, Goetze TA, Stoelzle-Feix S, Becker N, Fertig N, January CT, Anson BD, Ross JD.

Drug–drug interactions pose a difficult drug safety problem, given the increasing number of individuals taking multiple medications and the relative complexity of assessing the potential for interactions. For example, sofosbuvir-based drug treatments have significantly advanced care for hepatitis C virus-infected patients, yet recent reports suggest interactions with amiodarone may cause severe symptomatic bradycardia and thus limit an otherwise extremely effective treatment. Here, we evaluated the ability of human induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) to recapitulate the interaction between sofosbuvir and amiodarone in vitro, and more generally assessed the feasibility of hiPSC-CMs as a model system for drug–drug interactions. Sofosbuvir alone had negligible effects on cardiomyocyte electrophysiology, whereas the sofosbuvir-amiodarone combination produced dose-dependent effects beyond that of amiodarone alone. By comparison, GS-331007, the primary circulating metabolite of sofosbuvir, had no effect alone or in combination with amiodarone. Further mechanistic studies revealed that the sofosbuvir-amiodarone combination disrupted intracellular calcium (Ca2+) handling and cellular electrophysiology at pharmacologically relevant concentrations, and mechanical activity at supra-pharmacological (30x Cmax) concentrations. These effects were independent of the common mechanisms of direct ion channel block and P-glycoprotein activity. These results support hiPSC-CMs as a comprehensive, yet scalable model system for the identification and evaluation of cardioactive pharmacodynamic drug–drug interactions. 

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2016 – Mechanistic signs of double-barreled structure in a fluoride ion channel
Orbit mini Publication in eLIFE (2016) Authors: Last N.B., Kolmakova-Partensky L., Shane T., Miller C.

The Fluc family of F− ion channels protects prokaryotes and lower eukaryotes from the toxicity of environmental F−. In bacteria, these channels are built as dual-topology dimers whereby the two subunits assemble in antiparallel transmembrane orientation. Recent crystal structures suggested that Fluc channels contain two separate ion-conduction pathways, each with two F− binding sites, but no functional correlates of this unusual architecture have been reported. Experiments here fill this gap by examining the consequences of mutating two conserved F−-coordinating phenylalanine residues. Substitution of each phenylalanine specifically extinguishes its associated F− binding site in crystal structures and concomitantly inhibits F− permeation. Functional analysis of concatemeric channels, which permit mutagenic manipulation of individual pores, show that each pore can be separately inactivated without blocking F− conduction through its symmetry-related twin. The results strongly support dual-pathway architecture of Fluc channels.

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2016 – Mechano-Pharmacological Characterization of Cardiomyocytes Derived from Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
FLEXcyte 96 alike technology Publication in Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry (2016) Authors: Goßmann M., Frotscher R., Linder P., Neumann S., Bayer R., Epple M, Staat M., Artmann A., Artmann G.M.

Background/ Aims:Common systems for the quantification of cellular contraction rely on animal-based models, complex experimental setups or indirect approaches. The herein presented CellDrum technology for testing mechanical tension of cellular monolayers and thin tissue constructs has the potential to scale-up mechanical testing towards medium-throughput analyses. Using hiPS-Cardiac Myocytes (hiPS-CMs) it represents a new perspective of drug testing and brings us closer to personalized drug medication.Methods:In the present study, monolayers of self-beating hiPS-CMs were grown on ultra-thin circular silicone membranes and deflect under the weight of the culture medium. Rhythmic contractions of the hiPS-CMs induced variations of the membrane deflection. The recorded contraction-relaxation-cycles were analyzed with respect to their amplitudes, durations, time integrals and frequencies. Besides unstimulated force and tensile stress, we investigated the effects of agonists and antagonists acting on Ca2+ channels (S-Bay K8644/verapamil) and Na+ channels (veratridine/ lidocaine).Results:The measured data and simulations for pharmacologically unstimulated contraction resembled findings in native human heart tissue, while the pharmacological dose-response curves were highly accurate and consistent with reference data.Conclusion:We conclude that the combination of the CellDrum with hiPS-CMs offers a fast, facile and precise system for pharmacological, toxicological studies and offers new preclinical basic research potential.

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2016 – Membrane pyrophosphatases from Thermotoga maritima and Vigna radiata suggest a conserved coupling mechanism
SURFE2R N1 Publication in Nature Communications (2016) Authors: Li K., Wilkinson C., Kellosalo J., Tsai J., Kajander T, Jeuken L.J.C., Sun Y., Goldman A.

Membrane-bound pyrophosphatases (M-PPases), which couple proton/sodium ion transport to pyrophosphate synthesis/hydrolysis, are important in abiotic stress resistance and in the infectivity of protozoan parasites. Here, three M-PPase structures in different catalytic states show that closure of the substrate-binding pocket by helices 5–6 affects helix 13 in the dimer interface and causes helix 12 to move down. This springs a ‘molecular mousetrap’, repositioning a conserved aspartate and activating the nucleophilic water. Corkscrew motion at helices 6 and 16 rearranges the key ionic gate residues and leads to ion pumping. The pumped ion is above the ion gate in one of the ion-bound structures, but below it in the other. Electrometric measurements show a single-turnover event with a non-hydrolysable inhibitor, supporting our model that ion pumping precedes hydrolysis. We propose a complete catalytic cycle for both proton and sodium-pumping M-PPases, and one that also explains the basis for ion specificity.

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2016 – Myrsinane, Premyrsinane, and Cyclomyrsinane Diterpenes fromEuphorbia falcata as Potassium Ion Channel Inhibitors with Selective G Protein-Activated Inwardly Rectifying Ion Channel (GIRK) Blocking Effects
Patchliner Publication in Journal of Natural Products (2016) Authors: Vasas A., Forgo P., Orvos P., Tálosi L., Csorba A., Pinke G., Hohmann J.

GIRK channels are activated by a large number of G protein-coupled receptors and regulate the electrical activity of neurons, cardiac atrial myocytes, and β-pancreatic cells. Abnormalities in GIRK channel function have been implicated in the pathophysiology of neuropathic pain, drug addiction, and cardiac arrhythmias. In the heart, GIRK channels are selectively expressed in the atrium, and their activation inhibits pacemaker activity, thereby slowing the heart rate. In the present study, 19 new diterpenes, falcatins A–S, and the known euphorprolitherin D were isolated from Euphorbia falcata. The compounds were assayed on stable transfected HEK-hERG (KV11.1) and HEK-GIRK1/4 (Kir3.1 and Kir3.4) cells. Blocking activity on GIRK channels was exerted by 13 compounds (61–83% at 10 μM), and, among them, five possessed low potency on the hERG channel (4–20% at 10 μM). These selective activities suggest that myrsinane-related diterpenes are potential lead compounds for the treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Poster PDF
2016 – Next level toxicity screening: From single channel to overall cell behavior
Orbit mini, CardioExcyte 96 and SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384) poster, Meeting of the French Society of Toxinology (SFET) 2015 
Poster PDF
2016 – Parallel and automated formation of lipid bilayers on microstructured chips for ion channel and nanopore recordings
Orbit 16 poster, Kindly provided by Ionera Technologies
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2016 – pH Regulation of Electrogenic Sugar/H+ Symport in MFS Sugar Permeases
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system) Publication in PLoS ONE (2016) Authors: Bazzone A., Madej M.G., Kaback H.R., Fendler K.

Bacterial sugar symporters in the Major Facilitator Superfamily (MFS) use the H+ (and in a few cases Na+) electrochemical gradients to achieve active transport of sugar into the cell. Because a number of structures of MFS sugar symporters have been solved recently, molecular insight into the transport mechanism is possible from detailed functional analysis. We present here a comparative electrophysiological study of the lactose permease (LacY), the fucose permease (FucP) and the xylose permease (XylE), which reveals common mechanistic principles and differences. In all three symporters energetically downhill electrogenic sugar/H+ symport is observed. Comparison of the pH dependence of symport at symmetrical pH exhibits broad bell-shaped pH profiles extending over 3 to 6 pH units and a decrease at extremely alkaline pH ≥ 9.4 and at acidic to neutral pH = 4.6-7.5. The pH dependence can be described by an acidic to neutral apparent pK (pKapp) and an alkaline pKapp. Experimental evidence suggests that the alkaline pKapp is due to H+ depletion at the protonation site, while the acidic pKapp is due to inhibition of deprotonation. Since previous studies suggest that a single carboxyl group in LacY (Glu325) may be the only side chain directly involved in H+ translocation and a carboxyl side chain with similar properties has been identified in FucP (Asp46) and XylE (Asp27), the present results imply that the pK of this residue is switched during H+/sugar symport in all three symporters.

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2016 – pH-sensitive K+ channel TREK-1 is a novel target in pancreatic cancer
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) Publication in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (2016) Authors: Sauter D.R.P., Sørensen C.E., Rapedius M., Brüggemann A., Novak I.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most lethal cancers and new therapeutic targets are urgently needed. One of the hallmarks of cancer is changed pH-homeostasis and potentially pH-sensors may play an important role in cancer cell behavior. Two-pore potassium channels (K2P) are pH-regulated channels that conduct a background K+ current, which is involved in setting the plasma membrane potential (Vm). Some members of the K2P superfamily were reported as crucial players in driving tumor progression. The aim of this study was to investigate pH-regulated K+ currents in PDAC cells and determine possible effects on their pathological phenotype. Using a planar high-throughput patch-clamp system (SyncroPatch 384PE) we identified a pH-regulated K+ current in the PDAC cell line BxPC-3. The current was inhibited by extracellular acidification and intracellular alkalization. Exposure to a set of different K+ channel inhibitors, and the TREK-1 (K2P2.1)–specific activator BL1249, TREK-1 was identified as the main component of pH-regulated current. A voltage-sensor dye (VF2.1.Cl) was used to monitor effects of pH and BL1249 on Vm in more physiological conditions and TREK-1–mediated current was found as critical player in setting Vm. We assessed a possible role of TREK-1 in PDAC progression using cell proliferation and migration assays and observed similar trends with attenuated proliferation/migration rates in acidic (pH  7.0) and alkaline (pH > 7.4) conditions. Notably, BL1249 inhibited both PDAC cell proliferation and migration indicating that hyperpolarization of Vm attenuates cancer cell behavior. TREK-1 may therefore be a promising novel target for PDAC therapy.

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2016 – Photosensitization in Porphyrias and Photodynamic Therapy Involves TRPA1 and TRPV1
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in The Journal of Neuroscience (2016) Authors: Babes A., Sauer S.K., Moparthi L., Kichko T.I., Neacsu C., Namer B., Filipovic M., Zygmunt P.M., Reeh P.W., Fischer M.J.

Photosensitization, an exaggerated sensitivity to harmless light, occurs genetically in rare diseases, such as porphyrias, and in photodynamic therapy where short-term toxicity is intended. A common feature is the experience of pain from bright light. In human subjects, skin exposure to 405 nm light induced moderate pain, which was intensified by pretreatment with aminolevulinic acid. In heterologous expression systems and cultured sensory neurons, exposure to blue light activated TRPA1 and, to a lesser extent, TRPV1 channels in the absence of additional photosensitization. Pretreatment with aminolevulinic acid or with protoporphyrin IX dramatically increased the light sensitivity of both TRPA1 and TRPV1 via generation of reactive oxygen species. Artificial lipid bilayers equipped with purified human TRPA1 showed substantial single-channel activity only in the presence of protoporphyrin IX and blue light. Photosensitivity and photosensitization could be demonstrated in freshly isolated mouse tissues and led to TRP channel-dependent release of proinflammatory neuropeptides upon illumination. With antagonists in clinical development, these findings may help to alleviate pain during photodynamic therapy and also allow for disease modification in porphyria patients. Significance Statement: Cutaneous porphyria patients suffer from burning pain upon exposure to sunlight and other patients undergoing photodynamic therapy experience similar pain, which can limit the therapeutic efforts. This study elucidates the underlying molecular transduction mechanism and identifies potential targets of therapy. Ultraviolet and blue light generates singlet oxygen, which oxidizes and activates the ion channels TRPA1 and TRPV1. The disease and the therapeutic options could be reproduced in models ranging from isolated ion channels to human subjects, applying protoporphyrin IX or its precursor aminolevulinic acid. There is an unmet medical need, and our results suggest a therapeutic use of the pertinent antagonists in clinical development.

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2016 – Pore architecture of TRIC channels and insights into their gating mechanism
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Nature (2016) Authors: Yang H., Hu M., Guo J., Ou X., Cai T., Liu Z.

Intracellular Ca2+ signalling processes are fundamental to muscle contraction, neurotransmitter release, cell growth and apoptosis. Release of Ca2+ from the intracellular stores is supported by a series of ion channels in sarcoplasmic or endoplasmic reticulum (SR/ER). Among them, two isoforms of the trimeric intracellular cation (TRIC) channel family, named TRIC-A and TRIC-B, modulate the release of Ca2+ through the ryanodine receptor or inositol triphosphate receptor, and maintain the homeostasis of ions within SR/ER lumen. Genetic ablations or mutations of TRIC channels are associated with hypertension, heart disease, respiratory defects and brittle bone disease. Despite the pivotal function of TRIC channels in Ca2+ signalling, their pore architectures and gating mechanisms remain unknown. Here we present the structures of TRIC-B1 and TRIC-B2 channels from Caenorhabditis elegans in complex with endogenous phosphatidylinositol-4,5-biphosphate (PtdIns(4,5)P2, also known as PIP2) lipid molecules. The TRIC-B1/B2 proteins and PIP2 assemble into a symmetrical homotrimeric complex. Each monomer contains an hourglass-shaped hydrophilic pore contained within a seven-transmembrane-helix domain. Structural and functional analyses unravel the central role of PIP2 in stabilizing the cytoplasmic gate of the ion permeation pathway and reveal a marked Ca2+-induced conformational change in a cytoplasmic loop above the gate. A mechanistic model has been proposed to account for the complex gating mechanism of TRIC channels.

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2016 – Probing driving forces in aerolysin and α-hemolysin biological nanopores: electrophoresis versus electroosmosis
Orbit 16 Publication in Nanoscale (2016) Authors: Boukhet M., Piguet F., Ouldali H., Pastoriza-Gallego M., Pelta J., Oukhaled A.

The transport of macromolecules through nanopores is involved in many biological functions and is today at the basis of promising technological applications. Nevertheless the interpretation of the dynamics of the macromolecule/nanopore interaction is still misunderstood and under debate. At the nanoscale, inside biomimetic channels under an external applied voltage, electrophoresis, which is the electric force acting on electrically charged molecules, and electroosmotic flow (EOF), which is the fluid transport associated with ions, contribute to the direction and magnitude of the molecular transport. In order to decipher the contribution of the electrophoresis and electroosmotic flow, we explored the interaction of small, rigid, neutral molecules (cyclodextrins) and flexible, non-ionic polymers (poly(ethylene glycol), PEG) that can coordinate cations under appropriate experimental conditions, with two biological nanopores: aerolysin (AeL) and α-hemolysin (aHL). We performed experiments using two electrolytes with different ionic hydration (KCl and LiCl). Regardless of the nature of the nanopore and of the electrolyte, cyclodextrins behaved as neutral analytes. The dominant driving force was attributed to EOF, acting in the direction of the anion flow and stronger in LiCl than in KCl. The same qualitative behaviour was observed for PEGs in LiCl. In contrast, in KCl, PEGs behaved as positively charged polyelectrolytes through both AeL and aHL. Our results are in agreement with theoretical predictions about the injection of polymers inside a confined geometry (ESI). We believe our results to be of significant importance for better control of the dynamics of analytes of different nature through biological nanopores.

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2016 – Reversible control of current across lipid membranes by local heating
Port-a-Patch Publication in Scientific Reports (2016) Authors: Urban P., Kirchner S.R., Mühlbauer C., Lohmüller T., Feldmann J.

Lipid membranes are almost impermeable for charged molecules and ions that can pass the membrane barrier only with the help of specialized transport proteins. Here, we report how temperature manipulation at the nanoscale can be employed to reversibly control the electrical resistance and the amount of current that flows through a bilayer membrane with pA resolution. For this experiment, heating is achieved by irradiating gold nanoparticles that are attached to the bilayer membrane with laser light at their plasmon resonance frequency. We found that controlling the temperature on the nanoscale renders it possible to reproducibly regulate the current across a phospholipid membrane and the membrane of living cells in absence of any ion channels.

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2016 – Safety pharmacology studies using EFP and impedance
CardioExcyte 96 Publication in Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods (2016) Authors: Obergrussberger A., Juhasz K., Thomas U., Stölzle-Feix S., Becker N., Dörr L., Beckler M., Bot C., George M., Fertig N.

Introduction While extracellular field potential (EFP) recordings using multi-electrode arrays (MEAs) are a well-established technique for monitoring changes in cardiac and neuronal function, impedance is a relatively unexploited technology. The combination of EFP, impedance and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) has important implications for safety pharmacology as functional information about contraction and field potentials can be gleaned from human cardiomyocytes in a beating monolayer. The main objectives of this study were to demonstrate, using a range of different compounds, that drug effects on contraction and electrophysiology can be detected using a beating monolayer of hiPSC-CMs on the CardioExcyte 96. Methods hiPSC-CMs were grown as a monolayer on NSP-96 plates for the CardioExcyte 96 (Nanion Technologies) and recordings were made in combined EFP and impedance mode at physiological temperature. The effect of the hERG blockers, E4031 and dofetilide, hERG trafficking inhibitor, pentamidine, β-adrenergic receptor agonist, isoproterenol, and calcium channel blocker, nifedipine, was tested on the EFP and impedance signals. Results Combined impedance and EFP measurements were made from hiPSC-CMs using the CardioExcyte 96 (Nanion Technologies). E4031 and dofetilide, known to cause arrhythmia and Torsades de Pointes (TdP) in humans, decreased beat rate in impedance and EFP modes. Early afterdepolarization (EAD)-like events, an in vitro marker of TdP, could also be detected using this system. Isoproterenol and nifedipine caused an increase in beat rate. A long-term study (over 30 h) of pentamidine, a hERG trafficking inhibitor, showed a concentration and time-dependent effect of pentamidine. Discussion In the light of the new Comprehensive in Vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative to improve guidelines and standardize assays and protocols, the use of EFP and impedance measurements from hiPSCs may become critical in determining the proarrhythmic risk of potential drug candidates. The combination of EFP offering information about cardiac electrophysiology, and impedance, providing information about contractility from the same area of a synchronously beating monolayer of human cardiomyocytes in a 96-well plate format has important implications for future cardiac safety testing.

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2016 – Structural and functional characterization of a calcium-activated cation channel from Tsukamurella paurometabola
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Nature Communications (2016) Authors: Dhakshnamoorthy B., Rohaim A., Rui H., Blachowicz L., Roux B.

The selectivity filter is an essential functional element of K+ channels that is highly conserved both in terms of its primary sequence and its three-dimensional structure. Here, we investigate the properties of an ion channel from the Gram-positive bacterium Tsukamurella paurometabola with a selectivity filter formed by an uncommon proline-rich sequence. Electrophysiological recordings show that it is a non-selective cation channel and that its activity depends on Ca2+ concentration. In the crystal structure, the selectivity filter adopts a novel conformation with Ca2+ ions bound within the filter near the pore helix where they are coordinated by backbone oxygen atoms, a recurrent motif found in multiple proteins. The binding of Ca2+ ion in the selectivity filter controls the widening of the pore as shown in crystal structures and in molecular dynamics simulations. The structural, functional and computational data provide a characterization of this calcium-gated cationic channel.

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2016 – The antiepileptic medications carbamazepine and phenytoin inhibit native sodium currents in murine osteoblasts
Patchliner Publication in Epilepsia (2016) Authors: Petty S.J., Milligan C.J., Todaro M., Richards K.L., Kularathna P.K., Pagel C.N., French C.R., Hill-Yardin E.L., O'Brien T.J., Wark J.D., Mackie E.J., Petrou S.

Objective:Fracture risk is a serious comorbidity in epilepsy and may relate to the use of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Many AEDs inhibit ion channel function, and the expression of these channels in osteoblasts raises the question of whether altered bone signaling increases bone fragility. We aimed to confirm the expression of voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels in mouse osteoblasts, and to investigate the action of carbamazepine and phenytoin on NaV channels.Methods:Immunocytochemistry was performed on primary calvarial osteoblasts extracted from neonatal C57BL/6J mice and additional RNA sequencing (RNASeq) was included to confirm expression of NaV. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were made to identify the native currents expressed and to assess the actions of carbamazepine (50 μm) or phenytoin (50 μm).Results:NaV expression was demonstrated with immunocytochemistry, RNA sequencing, and functionally, with demonstration of robust tetrodotoxin-sensitive and voltage-activated inward currents. Application of carbamazepine or phenytoin resulted in significant inhibition of current amplitude for carbamazepine (31.6 ± 5.9%, n = 9; p 0.001), and for phenytoin (35.5 ± 6.9%, n = 7; p 0.001).Significance:Mouse osteoblasts express NaV, and native NaV currents are blocked by carbamazepine and phenytoin, supporting our hypothesis that AEDs can directly influence osteoblast function and potentially affect bone strength.

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2016 – The N-terminal Ankyrin Repeat Domain Is Not Required for Electrophile and Heat Activation of the Purified Mosquito TRPA1 Receptor
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Nature (2016) Authors: Survery S., Moparthi L., Kjellbom P., Högestätt E.D., Zygmunt P.M., Johanson U.

Temperature sensors are crucial for animals to optimize living conditions. The temperature response of the ion channel transient receptor potential A1 (TRPA1) is intriguing, some orthologs have been reported to be activated by cold and others by heat, but the molecular mechanisms responsible for its activation remain elusive. Single-channel electrophysiological recordings of heterologously expressed and purified Anopheles gambiae TRPA1 (AgTRPA1), with and without the N-terminal ankyrin repeat domain, demonstrate that both proteins are functional as they responded to the electrophilic compounds allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) and cinnamaldehyde as well as heat. The proteins similar intrinsic fluorescence properties and corresponding quenching when activated by AITC or heat, suggest lipid bilayer-independent conformational changes outside the N-terminal domain. The results show that AgTRPA1 is an inherent temperature- and chemoreceptor, and analogous to what has been reported for the human TRPA1 ortholog the N-terminal domain may tune the response but is not required for the activation by these stimuli.

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2016 – The potassium channels TASK2 and TREK1 regulate functional differentiation of murine skeletal muscle cells
Patchliner Publication in American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology (2016) Authors: Afzali A.M., Ruck T., Herrmann A.M., Iking J., Sommer C., Kleinschnitz C., Preuβe C., Stenzel W., Budde T., Wiendl H., Bittner S., Meuth S.G.

Two-pore domain potassium (K2P) channels influence basic cellular parameters such as resting membrane potential, cellular excitability, or intracellular Ca2+-concentration [Ca2+]i While the physiological importance of K2P channels in different organ systems (e.g., heart, central nervous system, or immune system) has become increasingly clear over the last decade, their expression profile and functional role in skeletal muscle cells (SkMC) remain largely unknown. The mouse SkMC cell line C2C12, wild-type mouse muscle tissue, and primary mouse muscle cells (PMMs) were analyzed using quantitative PCR, Western blotting, and immunohistochemical stainings as well as functional analysis including patch-clamp measurements and Ca2+ imaging. Mouse SkMC express TWIK-related acid-sensitive K+ channel (TASK) 2, TWIK-related K+ channel (TREK) 1, TREK2, and TWIK-related arachidonic acid stimulated K+ channel (TRAAK). Except TASK2 all mentioned channels were upregulated in vitro during differentiation from myoblasts to myotubes. TASK2 and TREK1 were also functionally expressed and upregulated in PMMs isolated from mouse muscle tissue. Inhibition of TASK2 and TREK1 during differentiation revealed a morphological impairment of myoblast fusion accompanied by a downregulation of maturation markers. TASK2 and TREK1 blockade led to a decreased K+ outward current and a decrease of ACh-dependent Ca2+ influx in C2C12 cells as potential underlying mechanisms. K2P-channel expression was also detected in human muscle tissue by immunohistochemistry pointing towards possible relevance for human muscle cell maturation and function. In conclusion, our findings for the first time demonstrate the functional expression of TASK2 and TREK1 in muscle cells with implications for differentiation processes warranting further investigations in physiologic and pathophysiologic scenarios.

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2016 – Upregulation of Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid Type-1 Channel Activity and Ca2+ Influx Dysfunction in Human Pterygial Cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science (2016) Authors: Garreis F., Schröder A., Reinach P.S., Zoll S., Khajavi N., Dhandapani P., Lucius A., Pleyer U., Paulsen F., Mergler S.

Purpose:The heat-sensitive transient receptor potential vanilloid type-1 (TRPV1) channel (i.e., capsaicin [CAP] receptor) is upregulated in numerous cancers. This study determined if this response occurs in fresh and cultured hyperplastic human pterygial epithelial tissues.Methods:Reverse transcriptase PCR and quantitative real-time PCR, along with immunohistochemistry and Western blotting, characterized TRPV1 expression patterns in pterygial and healthy conjunctival tissue, primary and immortalized pterygial cells (hPtEC), and primary and immortalized conjunctival epithelial cells (HCjEC). Imaging of Ca2+ and planar whole-cell patch-clamping evaluated TRP channel activity. An MTS assay measured cell metabolic activity and a cell growth assay monitored proliferation.Results:Capsaicin (20 μM) and elevating bath temperature above 43°C activated Ca2+ transients more in hPtEC than HCjEC. Capsaicin induced corresponding changes in inward currents that were inhibited by 20 μM capsazepine (CPZ). Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) also increased Ca2+-influx and induced corresponding inward currents more in hPtEC than in HCjEC, whereas CPZ (20 μM), BCTC (20 μM), or La3+ (500 μM) reduced these responses, respectively. Whereas epidermal growth factor (EGF) increased proliferation more in hPtEC than in HCjEC, VEGF had no effect on this response. Capsazepine suppressed hPtEC proliferation induced by EGF and VEGF, whereas it was cytotoxic to HCjEC.Conclusions:Mitogenic responses to EGF and VEGF are mediated through TRPV1 transactivation. Only in hPtEC do the increases in proliferation induced by EGF exceed those in HCjEC. Therefore, TRPV1 is a potential drug target whose clinical relevance in treating pterygium warrants further assessment.

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2016 – Use-dependent Block of Human Cardiac Sodium Channels by GS967
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) Publication in Molecular Pharmacology (2016) Authors: Potet F., Vanoye C.G., George Jr. A.L.

GS-458967, 6-(4-(Trifluoromethoxy)phenyl)-3-(trifluoromethyl)-[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]pyridine (GS967) is a recently described, novel, sodium channel inhibitor exhibiting potent antiarrhythmic effects in various in vitro and in vivo models. The antiarrhythmic mechanism has been attributed to preferential suppression of late sodium current. However, there has been no reported systematic investigation of the effects of this compound on isolated sodium channels. Here, we examined the effects of GS967 on peak (INaP) and late (INaL) sodium current recorded from cells that heterologously expressed human cardiac voltage-gated sodium channel, the principle cardiac sodium channel. As previously described, we observed that GS967 exerted tonic block of INaL (63%) to a significantly greater extent than INaP (19%). However, GS967 also caused a reduction of INaP in a frequency-dependent manner, consistent with use-dependent block (UDB). GS967 evoked more potent UDB of INaP (IC50 = 0.07 µM) than ranolazine (16 µM) and lidocaine (17 µM). Use-dependent block was best explained by a significant slowing of recovery from fast and slow inactivation with a significant enhancement of slow inactivation in the presence of GS967. Furthermore, GS967 was found to exert these same effects on a prototypical long QT syndrome mutation (delKPQ). An engineered mutation at an interaction site for local anesthetic agents (F1760A) partially attenuated the effect of GS967 on UDB, but had no effect on tonic INaL block. We conclude that GS967 is a preferential inhibitor of INaL, but it also exerts previously unreported strong effects on slow inactivation and recovery from inactivation, resulting in substantial UDB that is not entirely dependent on a known interaction site for local anesthetic agents.

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2016 – Voltage Dependence of Conformational Dynamics and Subconducting States of VDAC-1
Port-a-Patch Publication in Biophysical Journal (2016) Authors: Briones R., Weichbrodt C., Paltrinieri L., Mey I., Villinger S., Giller K., Lange A., Zweckstetter M., Griesinger C., Becker S., Steinem C., de Groot B.L.

The voltage-dependent anion channel 1 (VDAC-1) is an important protein of the outer mitochondrial membrane that transports energy metabolites and is involved in apoptosis. The available structures of VDAC proteins show a wide β-stranded barrel pore, with its N-terminal α-helix (N-α) bound to its interior. Electrophysiology experiments revealed that voltage, its polarity, and membrane composition modulate VDAC currents. Experiments with VDAC-1 mutants identified amino acids that regulate the gating process. However, the mechanisms for how these factors regulate VDAC-1, and which changes they trigger in the channel, are still unknown. In this study, molecular dynamics simulations and single-channel experiments of VDAC-1 show agreement for the current-voltage relationships of an “open” channel and they also show several subconducting transient states that are more cation selective in the simulations. We observed voltage-dependent asymmetric distortions of the VDAC-1 barrel and the displacement of particular charged amino acids. We constructed conformational models of the protein voltage response and the pore changes that consistently explain the protein conformations observed at opposite voltage polarities, either in phosphatidylethanolamine or phosphatidylcholine membranes. The submicrosecond VDAC-1 voltage response shows intrinsic structural changes that explain the role of key gating amino acids and support some of the current gating hypotheses. These voltage-dependent protein changes include asymmetric barrel distortion, its interaction with the membrane, and significant displacement of N-α amino acids.

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2017 – ‘Gardos Channelopathy’: a variant of hereditary Stomatocytosis with complex molecular regulation
Patchliner Publication in Scientific Reports (2017) Authors: Fermo E., Bogdanova A., etkova-Kirova P., Zaninoni A., Marcello A.P., Makhro A., Hänggi P., Hertz L., Danielczok J., Vercellati C., Mirra N., Zanella A., Cortelezzi A., Barcellini W., Kaestner L., Bianchi P.

The Gardos channel is a Ca2+ sensitive, K+ selective channel present in several tissues including RBCs, where it is involved in cell volume regulation. Recently, mutations at two different aminoacid residues in KCNN4 have been reported in patients with hereditary xerocytosis. We identified by whole exome sequencing a new family with two members affected by chronic hemolytic anemia carrying mutation R352H in the KCNN4 gene. No additional mutations in genes encoding for RBCs cytoskeletal, membrane or channel proteins were detected. We performed functional studies on patients’ RBCs to evaluate the effects of R352H mutation on the cellular properties and eventually on the clinical phenotype. Gardos channel hyperactivation was demonstrated in circulating erythrocytes and erythroblasts differentiated ex-vivo from peripheral CD34+ cells. Pathological alterations in the function of multiple ion transport systems were observed, suggesting the presence of compensatory effects ultimately preventing cellular dehydration in patient’s RBCs; moreover, flow cytometry and confocal fluorescence live-cell imaging showed Ca2+ overload in the RBCs of both patients and hypersensitivity of Ca2+ uptake by RBCs to swelling. Altogether these findings suggest that the ‘Gardos channelopathy’ is a complex pathology, to some extent different from the common hereditary xerocytosis.

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2017 – 14-3-3 proteins regulate K2P5.1 surface expression on T lymphocytes
Patchliner Publication in Traffic (2017) Authors: Fernández-Orth J., Ehling P., Ruck T., Pankratz S., Hofmann M.,Landgraf P., Dieterich D.C., SmallaK.-H., Kähne T., Seebohm G., Budde T., Wiendl H., Bittner S., Meuth S.G.

K2P5.1 channels (also called TASK-2 or Kcnk5) have already been shown to be relevant in the pathophysiology of autoimmune disease because they are known to be upregulated on peripheral and central T lymphocytes of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Moreover, overexpression of K2P5.1 channels in vitro provokes enhanced T-cell effector functions. However, the molecular mechanisms regulating intracellular K2P5.1 channel trafficking are unknown so far. Thus, the aim of the study is to elucidate the trafficking of K2P5.1 channels on T lymphocytes. Using mass spectrometry analysis, we have identified 14-3-3 proteins as novel binding partners of K2P5.1 channels. We show that a non-classical 14-3-3 consensus motif (R-X-X-pT/S-x) at the channel's C-terminus allows the binding between K2P5.1 and 14-3-3. The mutant K2P5.1/S266A diminishes the protein-protein interaction and reduces the amplitude of membrane currents. Application of a non-peptidic 14-3-3 inhibitor (BV02) significantly reduces the number of wild-type channels in the plasma membrane, whereas the drug has no effect on the trafficking of the mutated channel. Furthermore, blocker application reduces T-cell effector functions. Taken together, we demonstrate that 14-3-3 interacts with K2P5.1 and plays an important role in channel trafficking.

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2017 – A mutant of the Buthus martensii Karsch antitumor-analgesic peptide exhibits reduced inhibition to hNaV1.4 and hNaV1.5 channels while retaining analgesic activity
Port-a-Patch Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2017) Authors: Xu Y., Meng X., Hou X., Sun J., Kong X., Sun Y., Liu Z., Ma Y., Niu Y., Song Y., Cui Y., Zhao M., Zhang J.

Scorpion toxins can kill other animals by inducing paralysis and arrhythmia, which limits the potential applications of these agents in the clinical management of diseases. Antitumor-analgesic peptide (AGAP), purified from Buthus martensii Karsch, has been proved to possess analgesic and antitumor activities. Trp38, a conserved aromatic residue of AGAP, might play an important role in mediating AGAP activities according to the sequence and homology-modeling analyses. Therefore, an AGAP mutant, W38G, was generated, and effects of both AGAP and the mutant W38G were examined by whole-cell patch clamp techniques on the sodium channels hNaV1.4 and hNaV1.5, which were closely associated with the biotoxicity of skeletal and cardiac muscles, respectively. The data showed that both W38G and AGAP inhibited the peak currents of hNaV1.4 and hNaV1.5; however, W38G induced a much weaker inhibition of both channels than AGAP. Accordingly, W38G exhibited much less toxic effect on both skeletal and cardiac muscles than AGAP in vivo. The analgesic activity of W38G and AGAP were verified in vivo as well, and W38G retained analgesic activity similar to AGAP. Inhibition to both NaV1.7 and NaV1.8 was involved in the analgesic mechanism of AGAP and W38G. These findings indicated that Trp38 was a key amino acid involved in the biotoxicity of AGAP, and the AGAP mutant W38G might be a safer alternative for clinical application because it retains the analgesic efficacy with less toxicity to skeletal and cardiac muscles.

Poster PDF
2017 – Activation of CFTR channels in absence of internal fluoride using a highly parallel automated patch clamp system
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384) poster, BPS Meeting 2017
Poster PDF
2017 – An emerging technique for the characterization of transport proteins: SSM-based electrophysiology
SURFE2R N1 and SURFE2R SE96 poster, 19th IUPAB / 11th EBSA congress 2017
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2017 – An impedance-based approach using human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes significantly improves in vitro prediction of in vivo cardiotox liabilities
CardioExcyte 96 Publication in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology (2017)Authors: Authors: 

Current in vitro approaches to cardiac safety testing typically focus on mechanistic ion channel testing to predict in vivo proarrhythmic potential. Outside of the Comprehensive in vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative, structural and functional cardiotoxicity related to chronic dosing effects are of great concern as these effects can impact compound attrition. Development and implementation of an in vitro cardiotoxicity screening platform that effectively identifies these liabilities early in the discovery process should reduce costly attrition and decrease preclinical development time. Impedence platforms have the potential to accurately identify structural and functional cardiotoxicity and have sufficient throughput to be included in a multi-parametric optimization approach. Human induced pluripotent stem cell cardiomyocytes (hIPSC-CMs) have demonstrated utility in cardiac safety and toxicity screening. The work described here leverages these advantages to assess the predictive value of data generated by two impedance platforms. The response of hIPSC-CMs to compounds with known or predicted cardiac functional or structural toxicity was determined. The compounds elicited cardiac activities and/or effects on “macro” impedance often associated with overt structural or cellular toxicity, detachment, or hypertrophy. These assays correctly predicted in vivo cardiotox findings for 81% of the compounds tested and did not identify false positives. In addition, internal or literature Cmax values from in vivo studies correlated within 4 fold of the in vitro observations. The work presented here demonstrates the predictive power of impedance platforms with hIPSC-CMs and provides a means toward accelerating lead candidate selection by assessing preclinical cardiac safety earlier in the drug discovery process.

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2017 – Asymmetric mechanosensitivity in a eukaryotic ion channel
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in PNAS (2017) Authors: Clausen M.V., Jarerattanachata V., Carpenterc E.P., Mark S. , Sansomb P., Tucker S.J.

Living organisms perceive and respond to a diverse range of mechanical stimuli. A variety of mechanosensitive ion channels have evolved to facilitate these responses, but the molecular mechanisms underlying their exquisite sensitivity to different forces within the membrane remains unclear. TREK-2 is a mammalian two-pore domain (K2P) K+ channel important for mechanosensation, and recent studies have shown how increased membrane tension favors a more expanded conformation of the channel within the membrane. These channels respond to a complex range of mechanical stimuli, however, and it is uncertain how differences in tension between the inner and outer leaflets of the membrane contribute to this process. To examine this, we have combined computational approaches with functional studies of oppositely oriented single channels within the same lipid bilayer. Our results reveal how the asymmetric structure of TREK-2 allows it to distinguish a broad profile of forces within the membrane, and illustrate the mechanisms that eukaryotic mechanosensitive ion channels may use to detect and fine-tune their responses to different mechanical stimuli. Significance: One important way in which living organisms are able to detect and respond to their environment is via the conversion of mechanical forces into electrical signals. However, the molecular mechanisms that enable mammalian “mechanosensitive” ion channels to detect a wide profile of forces within the membrane remain unclear. By studying the functional activity of individual TREK-2 K2P channels inserted in different directions into a lipid bilayer, we are now able to describe how the asymmetric structure of this channel enables it to sense such a broad profile of forces. These results help us understand how eukaryotic ion channels respond to a rich variety of sensory stimuli.

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2017 – Automated Patch Clamp Recordings of Human Stem Cell- Derived Cardiomyocytes.
Patchliner and SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) book chapter in Stem Cell-Derived Models in Toxicology (2017) Authors: Obergrussberger A., Haarmann C., Stölzle-Feix S., Becker N., OhtsukiA., Brüggemann A., George M., Fertig N.

Patch clamp remains the gold standard for studying ion channel activity within cell membranes. Conventional patch clamp is notoriously low throughput and technically demanding making it an unsuitable technique for high-throughput screening (HTS). Automated patch clamp (APC) devices have done much to increase throughput and improve ease of use, particularly when using standard cell line cells such as HEK and CHO. In recent years, however, the use of human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) has become increasingly important, especially for safety screening in response to the Comprehensive In Vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative introduced in 2013. The goal of this initiative is to standardize assays, targets, and cell types. One part of the paradigm focuses on the use of APC and hiPSC cardiomyocytes. This chapter describes two automated patch clamp devices recording from up to 8 or 384 cells simultaneously using hiPSC cardiomyocytes. In the voltage clamp mode, voltage-gated Na+ (NaV), Ca2+ (CaV), and K+ (KV) channels could be recorded, and pharmacology using tetracaine, a NaV channel blocker, is described. Additionally, action potentials in the current clamp mode were recorded, and examples are shown including the effect of nifedipine, a CaV channel blocker. Detailed methods are provided for cell culture and harvesting of hiPSCs for use on APC devices. Protocols are also provided for voltage and current clamp recordings on the Patchliner, and voltage clamp experiments on the SyncroPatch 384PE APC instruments.

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2017 – Bilayer-Mediated Structural Transitions Control Mechanosensitivity of the TREK-2 K2P Channel
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Structure (2017)   Authors: Arya P, Jarerattanachat V., Clausen M.V., Schewe M., McClenaghan C., Argent L., Conrad L.J., Dong Y.Y., Pike A.C.W., Carpenter E.P., Baukrowitz T., Sansom M.S.P., Tucker S.J.

The mechanosensitive two-pore domain (K2P) K+ channels (TREK-1, TREK-2, and TRAAK) are important for mechanical and thermal nociception. However, the mechanisms underlying their gating by membrane stretch remain controversial. Here we use molecular dynamics simulations to examine their behavior in a lipid bilayer. We show that TREK-2 moves from the “down” to “up” conformation in direct response to membrane stretch, and examine the role of the transmembrane pressure profile in this process. Furthermore, we show how state-dependent interactions with lipids affect the movement of TREK-2, and how stretch influences both the inner pore and selectivity filter. Finally, we present functional studies that demonstrate why direct pore block by lipid tails does not represent the principal mechanism of mechanogating. Overall, this study provides a dynamic structural insight into K2P channel mechanosensitivity and illustrates how the structure of a eukaryotic mechanosensitive ion channel responds to changes in forces within the bilayer.

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2017 – Buserelin alleviates chloride transport defect in human cystic fibrosis nasal epithelial cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in PLoS ONE (2017) Authors: Calvez M.L., Benz N., Huguet F., Saint-Pierre A., Rouillé E., Coraux C., Férec C., Kerbiriou M., Trouvé P.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common autosomal recessive disease in Caucasians caused by mutations in the gene encoding the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane conductance Regulator (CFTR) chloride (Cl-) channel regulated by protein kinases, phosphatases, divalent cations and by protein-protein interactions. Among protein-protein interactions, we previously showed that Annexin A5 (AnxA5) binds to CFTR and is involved in the channel localization within membranes and in its Cl- channel function. The deletion of phenylalanine at position 508 (F508del) is the most common mutation in CF which leads to an altered protein (F508del-CFTR) folding with a nascent protein retained within the ER and is quickly degraded. We previously showed that AnxA5 binds to F508del-CFTR and that its increased expression due to a Gonadoliberin (GnRH) augments Cl- efflux in cells expressing F508del-CFTR. The aim of the present work was to use the GnRH analog buserelin which is already used in medicine. Human nasal epithelial cells from controls and CF patients (F508del/F508del) were treated with buserelin and we show here that the treatment alleviates Cl- channel defects in CF cells. Using proteomics we highlighted some proteins explaining this result. Finally, we propose that buserelin is a potential new pharmaceutical compound that can be used in CF and that bronchus can be targeted since we show here that they express GnRH-R.

Poster PDF
2017 – Cardiomyocytes in Voltage Clamp and Current Clamp by Automated Patch Clamp
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384) and Patchliner poster, BPS Meeting 2017
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2017 – Characterization of a KCNB1 variant associated with autism, intellectual disability, and epilepsy
SyncroPatch 768PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384/768i) Publication in Neurology Genetics (2017) Authors: Calhoun, J.D., Vanoye, C.G., Kok, F., George, A.L., Kearney, J.A.

Objective: To perform functional characterization of a potentially pathogenic KCNB1 variant identified by clinical exome sequencing of a proband with a neurodevelopmental disorder that included epilepsy and centrotemporal spikes on EEG. Methods: Whole-exome sequencing identified the KCNB1 variant c.595A.T (p.Ile199Phe). Biochemical and electrophysiologic experiments were performed to determine whether this variant affected protein expression, trafficking, and channel functional properties. Results: Biochemical characterization of the variant suggested normal protein expression and trafficking. Functional characterization revealed biophysical channel defects in assembled homotetrameric and heterotetrameric channels. Conclusions: The identification of the KCNB1 variant c.595A.T (p.Ile199Phe) in a neurodevelopmental disorder that included epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes expands the phenotypic spectrum of epilepsies associated with KCNB1 variants. The KCNB1-I199F variant exhibited partial loss of function relative to the wild-type channel. This defect is arguably less severe than previously reported KCNB1 variants, suggesting the possibility that the degree of KCNB1 protein dysfunction may influence disease severity.

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2017 – Combined Impedance and Extracellular Field Potential Recordings from Human Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes 
CardioExcyte 96 book chapter in Stem Cell-Derived Models in Toxicology (2017) Authors: Obergrussberger A., Thomas U., Stölzle-Feix S., Becker N., Juhasz K, Doerr L., Beckler M., George M., Fertig N.

Measurement of contractility using impedance is a novel method for gaining information about a drug candidate’s potential to disturb cardiac cell contraction. The impedance signal is recorded from a monolayer of cardiac cells, most commonly derived from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), which are becoming an attractive model for safety testing, especially in the light of the Comprehensive In Vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative introduced in 2013. The goal of this initiative is, in part, to standardize assays, targets, and cell types but also to evaluate the potential of new technologies, in this context, such as impedance. The CardioExcyte 96 is a hybrid system that combines the impedance readout (a measure of cell contractility) with extracellular field potential (EFP) recordings. This chapter focuses on cell handling of hiPSC cardiomyocytes (CMs) and the short- and long-term investigation into pharmacological effects of a wide range of pharmacological agents, including flecainide, nifedipine, isoproterenol, and E4031 using the CardioExcyte 96.

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2017 – Competition is the basis of the transport mechanism of the NhaB Na+/H+ exchanger from Klebsiella pneumoniae
SURFE2R-technology (custom-built system)  Publication in PLoS ONE (2017) Authors: Patiño-Ruiz M., Ganea C., Fendler K., Călinescu O.

Na+/H+ exchange is essential for survival of all organisms, having a role in the regulation of the intracellular Na+ concentration, pH and cell volume. Furthermore, Na+/H+ exchangers were shown to be involved in the virulence of the bacterium Yersinia pestis, indicating they might be potential targets for novel antibiotic treatments. The model system for Na+/H+ exchangers is the NhaA transporter from Escherichia coli, EcNhaA. Therefore, the general transport mechanism of NhaA exchangers is currently well characterized. However, much less is known about NhaB exchangers, with only a limited number of studies available. The pathogen Klebsiella pneumoniae, which is a major source of nosocomial infection, possesses three electrogenic Na+/H+ exchangers, KpNhaA1, KpNhaA2 and KpNhaB, none of which have been previously investigated. Our aim in this study was to functionally characterize KpNhaB using solid supported membrane-based electrophysiology as the main investigation technique, and thus provide the first electrophysiological investigation of an NhaB Na+/H+ exchanger. We found that NhaB can be described by the same competition-based mechanism that was shown to be valid for electrogenic NhaA and NapA, and for electroneutral NhaP Na+/H+ exchangers. For comparison we also characterized the activity of KpNhaA1 and KpNhaA2 and found that the three exchangers have complementary activity profiles, which is likely a survival advantage for K. pneumoniae when faced with environments of different salinity and pH. This underlines their importance as potential antibiotic drug targets.

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2017 – Conformational memory in the association of the transmembrane protein phospholamban with the sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium pump SERCA
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2017) Authors: Smeazzetto S., Armanious G.P., Moncelli M.R., Bak J.J., Lemieux M.J., Young H.S., Tadini-Buoninsegni F.

The sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase SERCA promotes muscle relaxation by pumping calcium ions from the cytoplasm into the sarcoplasmic reticulum. SERCA activity is regulated by a variety of small transmembrane peptides, most notably by phospholamban in cardiac muscle and sarcolipin in skeletal muscle. However, how phospholamban and sarcolipin regulate SERCA is not fully understood. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of phospholamban and sarcolipin on calcium translocation and ATP hydrolysis by SERCA under conditions that mimic environments in sarcoplasmic reticulum membranes. For pre-steady-state current measurements, proteoliposomes containing SERCA and phospholamban or sarcolipin were adsorbed to a solid-supported membrane and activated by substrate concentration jumps. We observed that phospholamban altered ATP-dependent calcium translocation by SERCA within the first transport cycle, whereas sarcolipin did not. Using pre-steady-state charge (calcium) translocation and steady-state ATPase activity under substrate conditions (various calcium and/or ATP concentrations) promoting particular conformational states of SERCA, we found that the effect of phospholamban on SERCA depends on substrate preincubation conditions. Our results also indicated that phospholamban can establish an inhibitory interaction with multiple SERCA conformational states with distinct effects on SERCA's kinetic properties. Moreover, we noted multiple modes of interaction between SERCA and phospholamban and observed that once a particular mode of association is engaged it persists throughout the SERCA transport cycle and multiple turnover events. These observations are consistent with conformational memory in the interaction between SERCA and phospholamban, thus providing insights into the physiological role of phospholamban and its regulatory effect on SERCA transport activity.

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2017 – Correlation between human ether-a-go-go related gene channel inhibition and action potential prolongation
Patchliner Publication in British Journal of Pharmacology (2017) Authors: Saxena P., Hortigon‐Vinagre M.P., Beyl S.,Baburin I., Andranovits S., Iqbal S.M., Costa A., IJzerman A.P., Kügler P., Timin E., Smith G.L., Hering S.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG; KV 11.1) channel inhibition is a widely accepted predictor of cardiac arrhythmia. hERG channel inhibition alone is often insufficient to predict pro-arrhythmic drug effects. This study used a library of dofetilide derivatives to investigate the relationship between standard measures of hERG current block in an expression system and changes in action potential duration (APD) in human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs). The interference from accompanying block of CaV1.2 and NaV1.5 channels was investigated along with an in silico AP model.EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH:Drug-induced changes in APD were assessed in hiPSC-CMs using voltage-sensitive dyes. The IC50 values for dofetilide and 13 derivatives on hERG current were estimated in an HEK293 expression system. The relative potency of each drug on APD was estimated by calculating the dose (D150 ) required to prolong the APD at 90% (APD90 ) repolarization by 50%.KEY RESULTS:The D150 in hiPSC-CMs was linearly correlated with IC50 of hERG current. In silico simulations supported this finding. Three derivatives inhibited hERG without prolonging APD, and these compounds also inhibited CaV1.2 and/or NaV1.5 in a channel state-dependent manner. Adding CaV 1.2 and NaV 1.2 block to the in silico model recapitulated the direction but not the extent of the APD change.CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS:Potency of hERG current inhibition correlates linearly with an index of APD in hiPSC-CMs. The compounds that do not correlate have additional effects including concomitant block of CaV1.2 and/or NaV1.5 channels. In silico simulations of hiPSC-CMs APs confirm the principle of the multiple ion channel effects.

Presentation PDF
2017 – Cross-site comparison of myocyte phase II compounds on different iPS cardiomyocytes based on CardioExcyte 96 recordings
Presenter: Dr. Corina Bot, Nanion Technologies, Inc. Source:
CiPA Cardiac stem cell working group webinar, September 20. 2017
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2017 – Cytotoxic effect of zinc oxide nanoparticles on murine photoreceptor cells via potassium channel block and Na+/K+‐ATPase inhibition
Port-a-Patch Publication in Cell Proliferation (2017) Authors: Chen C. Bu W., Ding H., Li Q., Wang D., Bi H., Guo D.

Objective: Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles can exhibit toxicity towards organisms and oxidative stress is often hypothesized to be one of the most important factors. Nevertheless, the detailed mechanism of toxicity‐induced by ZnO nanoparticles has not been completely addressed. The present study aimed to investigate the toxic effects of ZnO nanoparticles on the expression and activity of Na+/K+‐ATPase and on potassium channel block. Materials and methods: In the present study, we explored the cytotoxic effect of ZnO nanoparticles on murine photoreceptor cells using lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release assay, reactive oxygen species (ROS) determination, mitochondrial membrane potential (Δφm) measurement, delayed rectifier potassium current recordings and Na+/K+‐ATPase expression and activity monitoring. Results: The results indicated that ZnO nanoparticles could increase the LDH release in medium, aggravate the ROS level within cells, collapse the Δφm, block the delayed rectifier potassium current, and attenuate the expressions of Na+/K+‐ATPase at both mRNA and protein levels and its activity, and thus exert cytotoxic effects on murine photoreceptor cells, finally damaging target cells. Conclusion: Our findings will facilitate the understanding of the mechanism involved in ZnO nanoparticle‐induced cytotoxicity in murine photoreceptor cells via potassium channel block and Na+/K+‐ATPase inhibition.

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2017 – Development of Automated Patch Clamp Technique to Investigate CFTR Chloride Channel Function
Patchliner Publication in Frontiers in Pharmacology (2017) Authors: Billet A.,Froux L., Hanrahan J.W., Becq F.

The chloride (Cl-) channel cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is defective in cystic fibrosis (CF), and mutation of its encoding gene leads to various defects such as retention of the misfolded protein in the endoplasmic reticulum, reduced stability at the plasma membrane, abnormal channel gating with low open probability, and thermal instability, which leads to inactivation of the channel at physiological temperature. Pharmacotherapy is one major therapeutic approach in the CF field and needs sensible and fast tools to identify promising compounds. The high throughput screening assays available are often fast and sensible techniques but with lack of specificity. Few works used automated patch clamp (APC) for CFTR recording, and none have compared conventional and planar techniques and demonstrated their capabilities for different types of experiments. In this study, we evaluated the use of planar parallel APC technique for pharmacological search of CFTR-trafficking correctors and CFTR function modulators. Using optimized conditions, we recorded both wt- and corrected F508del-CFTR Cl- currents with automated whole-cell patch clamp and compared the data to results obtained with conventional manual whole-cell patch clamp. We found no significant difference in patch clamp parameters such as cell capacitance and series resistance between automated and manual patch clamp. Also, the results showed good similarities of CFTR currents recording between the two methods. We showed that similar stimulation protocols could be used in both manual and automatic techniques allowing precise control of temperature, classic I/V relationship, and monitoring of current stability in time. In conclusion, parallel patch-clamp recording allows rapid and efficient investigation of CFTR currents with a variety of tests available and could be considered as new tool for medium throughput screening in CF pharmacotherapy.

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2017 – Dipole Modifiers Regulate Lipid Lateral Heterogeneity in Model Membranes
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Acta Naturae (2017) Authors: Efimova S.S., Ostroumova O.S.

In this study we report on experimental observations of giant unilamellar liposomes composed of ternary mixtures of cholesterol (Chol), phospholipids with relatively low Tmelt (DOPC, POPC, or DPoPC) and high Tmelt (sphingomyelin (SM), or tetramyristoyl cardiolipin (TMCL)) and their phase behaviors in the presence and absence of dipole modifiers. It was shown that the ratios of liposomes exhibiting noticeable phase separation decrease in the series POPC, DOPC, DPoPC regardless of any high-Tmelt lipid. Substitution of SM for TMCL led to increased lipid phase segregation. Taking into account the fact that the first and second cases corresponded to a reduction in the thickness of the lipid domains enriched in low- and high-Tmelt lipids, respectively, our findings indicate that the phase behavior depends on thickness mismatch between the ordered and disordered domains. The dipole modifiers, flavonoids and styrylpyridinium dyes, reduced the phase segregation of membranes composed of SM, Chol, and POPC (or DOPC). The other ternary lipid mixtures tested were not affected by the addition of dipole modifiers. It is suggested that dipole modifiers address the hydrophobic mismatch through fluidization of the ordered and disordered domains. The ability of a modifier to partition into the membrane and fluidize the domains was dictated by the hydrophobicity of modifier molecules, their geometric shape, and the packing density of domain-forming lipids. Phloretin, RH 421, and RH 237 proved the most potent among all the modifiers examined.

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2017 – Discovery of benzimidazole derivatives as modulators of mitochondrial function: A potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
Patchliner Publication in PLoS ONE (2017) Authors: Kim T., Yang H.Y., Park B.G., Jung S.Y., Park J.H., Park K.D., Min S.J., Tae J., Yang H., Cho S., Cho S.J., Song H., Mook-Jung I., Lee J., Pae A.N.

In this study, we designed a library of compounds based on the structures of well-known ligands of the 18 kDa translocator protein (TSPO), one of the putative components of the mPTP. We performed diverse mitochondrial functional assays to assess their ability to restore cells from Aβ-induced toxicity in vitro and in vivo. Among tested compounds, compound 25 effectively improved cognitive function in animal models of AD. Given the excellent in vitro and in vivo activity and a favorable pharmacokinetic profile of compound 25, we believe that it can serve as a promising lead compound for a potential treatment option for AD.

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2017 – Discovery of Compounds that Positively Modulate the High Affinity Choline Transporter
SURFE2R N1 Publication in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience (2017) Authors: Choudhary P., Armstrong E.J., Jorgensen C.C., Piotrowski M., Barthmes M., Torella R., Johnston S.E., Maruyama Y., Janiszewski J.S., Storer R.I., Skerratt S.E., Benn C.L.

Cholinergic hypofunction is associated with decreased attention and cognitive deficits in the central nervous system in addition to compromised motor function. Consequently, stimulation of cholinergic neurotransmission is a rational therapeutic approach for the potential treatment of a variety of neurological conditions. High affinity choline uptake (HACU) into acetylcholine (ACh)-synthesizing neurons is critically mediated by the sodium- and pH-dependent high-affinity choline transporter (CHT, encoded by the SLC5A7 gene). This transporter is comparatively well-characterized but otherwise unexplored as a potential drug target. We therefore sought to identify small molecules that would enable testing of the hypothesis that positive modulation of CHT mediated transport would enhance activity-dependent cholinergic signaling. We utilized existing and novel screening techniques for their ability to reveal both positive and negative modulation of CHT using literature tools. A screening campaign was initiated with a bespoke compound library comprising both the Pfizer Chemogenomic Library (CGL) of 2,753 molecules designed specifically to help enable the elucidation of new mechanisms in phenotypic screens and 887 compounds from a virtual screening campaign to select molecules with field-based similarities to reported negative and positive allosteric modulators. We identified a number of previously unknown active and structurally distinct molecules that could be used as tools to further explore CHT biology or as a starting point for further medicinal chemistry.

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2017 – Distribution and kinetics of the Kv1.3-blocking peptide HsTX1[R14A] in experimental rats
Port-a-Patch Publication in Scientific Reports (2017) Authors: Bergmann R., Kubeil M., Zarschler K., Chhabra S., Tajhya R.B., Beeton C., Pennington M.W., Bachmann M., Norton R.S., Stephan H.

The peptide HsTX1[R14A] is a potent and selective blocker of the voltage-gated potassium channel Kv1.3, which is a highly promising target for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and other conditions. In order to assess the biodistribution of this peptide, it was conjugated with NOTA and radiolabelled with copper-64. [64Cu]Cu-NOTA-HsTX1[R14A] was synthesised in high radiochemical purity and yield. The radiotracer was evaluated in vitro and in vivo. The biodistribution and PET studies after intravenous and subcutaneous injections showed similar patterns and kinetics. The hydrophilic peptide was rapidly distributed, showed low accumulation in most of the organs and tissues, and demonstrated high molecular stability in vitro and in vivo. The most prominent accumulation occurred in the epiphyseal plates of trabecular bones. The high stability and bioavailability, low normal-tissue uptake of [64Cu]Cu-NOTA-HsTX1[R14A], and accumulation in regions of up-regulated Kv channels both in vitro and in vivo demonstrate that HsTX1[R14A] represents a valuable lead for conditions treatable by blockade of the voltage-gated potassium channel Kv1.3. The pharmacokinetics shows that both intravenous and subcutaneous applications are viable routes for the delivery of this potent peptide.

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2017 – Effect of cisplatin on the transport activity of PII-type ATPases
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in Metallomics (2017) Authors: Tadini-Buoninsegni F., Sordi G, Smeazzetto S, Natile G, Arnesano F.

Cisplatin (cis-diamminedichlorido-Pt(ii)) is extensively used as a chemotherapeutic agent against various types of tumors. However, cisplatin administration causes serious side effects, including nephrotoxicity, ototoxicity and neurotoxicity. It has been shown that cisplatin can interact with P-type ATPases, e.g., Cu+-ATPases (ATP7A and ATP7B) and Na+/K+-ATPase. Cisplatin-induced inhibition of Na+/K+-ATPase has been related to the nephrotoxic effect of the drug. To investigate the inhibitory effects of cisplatin on the pumping activity of PII-type ATPases, electrical measurements were performed on sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) and Na+/K+-ATPase embedded in vesicles/membrane fragments adsorbed on a solid-supported membrane. We found that cisplatin inhibits SERCA and Na+/K+-ATPase only when administered without a physiological reducing agent (GSH); in contrast, inhibition was also observed in the case of Cu+-ATPases in the presence of 1 mM GSH. Our results indicate that cisplatin is a much stronger inhibitor of SERCA (with an IC50 value of 1.3 μM) than of Na+/K+-ATPase (with an IC50 value of 11.1 μM); moreover, cisplatin inhibition of Na+/K+-ATPase is reversible, whereas it is irreversible in the case of SERCA. In the absence of a physiological substrate, while Cu+-ATPases are able to translocate cisplatin, SERCA and Na+/K+-ATPase do not perform ATP-dependent cisplatin displacement.

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2017 – Engineering a pH responsive pore forming protein
Orbit mini and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Scientific Reports (2017)    Authors: Kisovec M., Rezelj S., Knap P., Cajnko M.M., Caserman S., Flašker A., Žnidaršič N., Repič M., Mavri J., Ruan Y., Scheuring S., Podobnik M., Anderluh G.

Listeriolysin O (LLO) is a cytolysin capable of forming pores in cholesterol-rich lipid membranes of host cells. It is conveniently suited for engineering a pH-governed responsiveness, due to a pH sensor identified in its structure that was shown before to affect its stability. Here we introduced a new level of control of its hemolytic activity by making a variant with hemolytic activity that was pH-dependent. Based on detailed structural analysis coupled with molecular dynamics and mutational analysis, we found that the bulky side chain of Tyr406 allosterically affects the pH sensor. Molecular dynamics simulation further suggested which other amino acid residues may also allosterically influence the pH-sensor. LLO was engineered to the point where it can, in a pH-regulated manner, perforate artificial and cellular membranes. The single mutant Tyr406Ala bound to membranes and oligomerized similarly to the wild-type LLO, however, the final membrane insertion step was pH-affected by the introduced mutation. We show that the mutant toxin can be activated at the surface of artificial membranes or living cells by a single wash with slightly acidic pH buffer. Y406A mutant has a high potential in development of novel nanobiotechnological applications such as controlled release of substances or as a sensor of environmental pH.

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2017 – Evaluation of the antimicrobial activity of the mastoparan Polybia-MPII isolated from venom of the social wasp Pseudopolybia vespiceps testacea (Vespidae, Hymenoptera)
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (2017)   Authors: Silva J.C., Neto L.M., Neves R.C., Gonçalves J.C., Trentini M.M., Mucury-Filho R., Smidt K.S., Fensterseifer I.C., Silva O.N., Lima L.D., Clissa P.B., Vilela N., Guilhelmelli F., Silva L.P., Rangel M., Kipnis A., Silva-Pereira I., Franco O.L., Junqueira-Kipnis A.P., Bocca A.L., Mortari M.R.

Mastoparans, a class of peptides found in wasp venom, have significant effects following a sting as well as useful applications in clinical practice. Among these is their potential use in the control of micro-organisms that cause infectious diseases with a significant impact on society. Thus, the present study describes the isolation and identification of a mastoparan peptide from the venom of the social wasp Pseudopolybia vespiceps and evaluated its antimicrobial profile against bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. massiliense), fungi (Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans) and in vivo S. aureus infection. The membrane pore-forming ability was also assessed. The mastoparan reduced in vitro and ex vivo mycobacterial growth by 80% at 12.5 µM in infected peritoneal macrophages but did not affect the shape of bacterial cells at the dose tested (6.25 µM). The peptide also showed potent action against S. aureus in vitro (EC50 and EC90 values of 1.83 µM and 2.90 µM, respectively) and reduced the in vivo bacterial load after 6 days of topical treatment (5 mg/kg). Antifungal activity was significant, with EC50 and EC90 values of 12.9 µM and 15.3 µM, respectively, for C. albicans, and 11 µM and 22.70 µM, respectively, for C. neoformans. Peptides are currently attracting interest for their potential in the design of antimicrobial drugs, particularly due to the difficulty of micro-organisms in developing resistance to them. In this respect, Polybia-MPII proved to be highly effective, with a lower haemolysis rate compared with peptides of the same family.

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2017 – Frequency-Dependent Multi-Well Cardiotoxicity Screening Enabled by Optogenetic Stimulation
CardioExcyte 96 Publication in International Journal of Molecular Sciences Authors: Rehnelt S., Malan D., Juhasz K., Wolters B., Doerr L., Beckler M., Kettenhofen R., Bohlen H., Bruegmann T., Sasse P.

Side effects on cardiac ion channels causing lethal arrhythmias are one major reason for drug withdrawals from the market. Field potential (FP) recording from cardiomyocytes, is a well-suited tool to assess such cardiotoxic effects of drug candidates in preclinical drug development, but it is currently limited to the spontaneous beating of the cardiomyocytes and manual analysis. Herein, we present a novel optogenetic cardiotoxicity screening system suited for the parallel automated frequency-dependent analysis of drug effects on FP recorded from human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. For the expression of the light-sensitive cation channel Channelrhodopsin-2, we optimised protocols using virus transduction or transient mRNA transfection. Optical stimulation was performed with a new light-emitting diode lid for a 96-well FP recording system. This enabled reliable pacing at physiologically relevant heart rates and robust recording of FP. Thereby we detected rate-dependent effects of drugs on Na+, Ca2+ and K+ channel function indicated by FP prolongation, FP shortening and the slowing of the FP downstroke component, as well as generation of afterdepolarisations. Taken together, we present a scalable approach for preclinical frequency-dependent screening of drug effects on cardiac electrophysiology. Importantly, we show that the recording and analysis can be fully automated and the technology is readily available using commercial products.

Poster PDF
2017 – High throughput real-time measurement of electrogenic membrane transport driven by the SLC transporters PepT1 and OcT2
SURFE2R SE96 poster, Biophysics congress 2017
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2017 – High-throughput electrophysiological assays for voltage gated ion channels using SyncroPatch 768PE
SyncroPatch 768PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384/768i) Publication in PLoS One (2017) Authors: Li T, Lu G, Chiang E.Y., Chernov-Rogan T., Grogan J.L., Chen J.

Ion channels regulate a variety of physiological processes and represent an important class of drug target. Among the many methods of studying ion channel function, patch clamp electrophysiology is considered the gold standard by providing the ultimate precision and flexibility. However, its utility in ion channel drug discovery is impeded by low throughput. Additionally, characterization of endogenous ion channels in primary cells remains technical challenging. In recent years, many automated patch clamp (APC) platforms have been developed to overcome these challenges, albeit with varying throughput, data quality and success rate. In this study, we utilized SyncroPatch 768PE, one of the latest generation APC platforms which conducts parallel recording from two-384 modules with giga-seal data quality, to push these 2 boundaries. By optimizing various cell patching parameters and a two-step voltage protocol, we developed a high throughput APC assay for the voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.7. By testing a group of NaV1.7 reference compounds’ IC50, this assay was proved to be highly consistent with manual patch clamp (R > 0.9). In a pilot screening of 10,000 compounds, the success rate, defined by > 500 MΩ seal resistance and >500 pA peak current, was 79%. The assay was robust with daily throughput ~ 6,000 data points and Z’ factor 0.72. Using the same platform, we also successfully recorded endogenous voltage-gated potassium channel KV1.3 in primary T cells. Together, our data suggest that SyncroPatch 768PE provides a powerful platform for ion channel research and drug discovery.

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2017 – High-yield production of “difficult-to-express” proteins in a continuous exchange cell-free system based on CHO cell lysates
Orbit 16 Publication in Scientific Reports (2017) Authors: Thoring L., Dondapati S.K., Stech M., Wüstenhagen D.A., Kubick S.

Cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) represents a promising technology for efficient protein production targeting especially so called “difficult-to-express” proteins whose synthesis is challenging in conventional in vivo protein production platforms. Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells are one of the most prominent and safety approved cell lines for industrial protein production. In this study we demonstrated the ability to produce high yields of various protein types including membrane proteins and single chain variable fragments (scFv) in a continuous exchange cell-free (CECF) system based on CHO cell lysate that contains endogenous microsomal structures. We showed significant improvement of protein yield compared to batch formatted reactions and proved biological activity of synthesized proteins using various analysis technologies. Optimized CECF reaction conditions led to membrane protein yields up to 980 µg/ml, which is the highest protein yield reached in a microsome containing eukaryotic cell-free system presented so far.

2017 – HTS in Cardiac Safety
Presenter: Dr. Sonja Stölzle-Feix, Nanion Technologies GmbH, Source: Satellite symposium during SPS, Berlin, September 22. 2017
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2017 – Identification of Na+/K+-ATPase inhibition-independent proarrhythmic ionic mechanisms of cardiac glycosides
Patchliner Publication in Nature Scientific Reports (2017) Authors: Koh C.H., Wu J., Chung Y.Y., Liu Z., Zhang R.R., Chong K., Korzh V., Ting S., Oh S., Shim W., Tian H.Y., Wei H.

The current study explored the Na+/K+-ATPase (NKA) inhibition-independent proarrhythmic mechanisms of cardiac glycosides (CGs) which are well-known NKA inhibitors. With the cytosolic Ca2+ chelated by EGTA and BAPTA or extracellular Ca2+ replaced by Ba2+, effects of bufadienolides (bufalin (BF) and cinobufagin (CBG)) and cardenolides (ouabain (Oua) and pecilocerin A (PEA)) on the L-type calcium current (I Ca,L) were recorded in heterologous expression CaV1.2-CHO cells and human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs). BF and CBG demonstrated a concentration-dependent (0.1 to100 µM) I Ca,L inhibition (maximal ≥50%) without and with the NKA activity blocked by 10 µM Oua. BF significantly shortened the action potential duration at 1.0 µM and shortened the extracellular field potential duration at 0.01~1.0 µM. On the other hand, BF and CBG at 100 µM demonstrated a strong inhibition (≥40%) of the rapidly activating component of the delayed rectifier K+ current (I Kr) in heterologous expression HEK293 cells and prolonged the APD of the heart of day-3 Zebrafish larva with disrupted rhythmic contractions. Moreover, hESC-CMs treated with BF (10 nM) for 24 hours showed moderate yet significant prolongation in APD90. In conclusion, our data indicate that CGs particularly bufadienolides possess cytosolic [Ca2+]i- and NKA inhibition- independent proarrhythmic potential through I Ca,L and I Kr inhibitions.

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2017 – Insights into the mechanism of membrane pyrophosphatases by combining experiment and computer simulation
SURFE2R N1 Publication in Structural Dynamics (2017) Authors: Shah N.R., Wilkinson C., Harborne S.P.D., Turku A., Li K.-M., Sun Y.-J., Harris S., Goldman A.

Membrane-integral pyrophosphatases (mPPases) couple the hydrolysis of pyrophosphate (PPi) to the pumping of Na+, H+, or both these ions across a membrane. Recently solved structures of the Na+-pumping Thermotoga maritima mPPase (TmPPase) and H+-pumping Vigna radiata mPPase revealed the basis of ion selectivity between these enzymes and provided evidence for the mechanisms of substrate hydrolysis and ion-pumping. Our atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of TmPPase demonstrate that loop 5–6 is mobile in the absence of the substrate or substrate-analogue bound to the active site, explaining the lack of electron density for this loop in resting state structures. Furthermore, creating an apo model of TmPPase by removing ligands from the TmPPase:IDP:Na structure in MD simulations resulted in increased dynamics in loop 5–6, which results in this loop moving to uncover the active site, suggesting that interactions between loop 5–6 and the imidodiphosphate and its associated Mg2+ are important for holding a loop-closed conformation. We also provide further evidence for the transport-before-hydrolysis mechanism by showing that the non-hydrolyzable substrate analogue, methylene diphosphonate, induces low levels of proton pumping by VrPPase.

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2017 – Ion- and water-binding sites inside an occluded hourglass pore of a trimeric intracellular cation (TRIC) channel
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in BioMed Central Biology (2017) Authors: Ou X., Guo J., Wang L., Yang H., Liu X., Sun J., Liu Z.

Background:Trimeric intracellular cation (TRIC) channels are crucial for Ca2+ handling in eukaryotes and are involved in K+ uptake in prokaryotes. Recent studies on the representative members of eukaryotic and prokaryotic TRIC channels demonstrated that they form homotrimeric units with the ion-conducting pores contained within each individual monomer.Results:Here we report detailed insights into the ion- and water-binding sites inside the pore of a TRIC channel from Sulfolobus solfataricus (SsTRIC). Like the mammalian TRIC channels, SsTRIC is permeable to both K+ and Na+ with a slight preference for K+, and is nearly impermeable to Ca2+, Mg2+, or Cl–. In the 2.2-Å resolution K+-bound structure of SsTRIC, ion/water densities have been well resolved inside the pore. At the central region, a filter-like structure is shaped by the kinks on the second and fifth transmembrane helices and two nearby phenylalanine residues. Below the filter, the cytoplasmic vestibule is occluded by a plug-like motif attached to an array of pore-lining charged residues.Conclusions:The asymmetric filter-like structure at the pore center of SsTRIC might serve as the basis for the channel to bind and select monovalent cations. A Velcro-like plug-pore interacting model has been proposed and suggests a unified framework accounting for the gating mechanisms of prokaryotic and eukaryotic TRIC channels.

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2017 – L-Type Calcium Channel Inhibition Contributes to the Proarrhythmic Effects of Aconitine in Human Cardiomyocytes
Patchliner Publication in PLoS ONE (2017) Authors: Wu J., Wang X., Chung Y.Y. Koh C.H. Liu Z., Guo H., Yuan Q., Wang C., Su S., Wei H.

Aconitine (ACO) is well-known for causing lethal ventricular tachyarrhythmias. While cardiac Na+ channel opening during repolarization has long been documented in animal cardiac myocytes, the cellular effects and mechanism of ACO in human remain unexplored. This study aimed to assess the proarrhythmic effects of ACO in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs). ACO concentration-dependently (0.3 ~ 3.0 μM) shortened the action potentials (AP) durations (APD) in ventricular-like hiPSC-CMs by > 40% and induced delayed after-depolarization. Laser-scanning confocal calcium imaging analysis showed that ACO decreased the duration and amplitude of [Ca2+]i transients and increased in the beating frequencies by over 60%. Moreover, ACO was found to markedly reduce the L-type calcium channel (LTCC) currents (ICa,L) in hiPSC-CMs associated with a positive-shift of activation and a negative shift of inactivation. ACO failed to alter the peak and late Na+ currents (INa) in hiPSC-CMs while it drastically increased the late INa in Guinea-pig ventricular myocytes associated with enhanced activation/delayed inactivation of INa at -55 mV~ -85 mV. Further, the effects of ACO on ICa,L, INa and the rapid delayed rectifier potassium current (IKr) were validated in heterologous expression systems by automated voltage-clamping assays and a moderate suppression of IKr was observed in addition to concentration-dependent ICa,L inhibition. Lastly, increased beating frequency, decreased Ca2+ wave and shortened field potential duration were recorded from hiPSC-CMs by microelectrode arrays assay. In summary, our data demonstrated that LTCC inhibition could play a main role in the proarrhythmic action of ACO in human cardiomyocytes.

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2017 – Lipid phase separation in the presence of hydrocarbons in giant unilamellar vesicles
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in AIMS Biophysics (2017) Authors: Bartelds R., Barnoud J., Boersma A.J., Marrink S.J., Poolman B.

Hydrophobic hydrocarbons are absorbed by cell membranes. The effects of hydrocarbons on biological membranes have been studied extensively, but less is known how these compounds affect lipid phase separation. Here, we show that pyrene and pyrene-like hydrocarbons can dissipate lipid domains in phase separating giant unilamellar vesicles at room temperature. In contrast, related aromatic compounds left the phase separation intact, even at high concentration. We hypothesize that this behavior is because pyrene and related compounds lack preference for either the liquid-ordered (Lo) or liquid-disordered (Ld) phase, while larger molecules prefer Lo, and smaller, less hydrophobic molecules prefer Ld. In addition, our data suggest that localization in the bilayer (depth) and the shape of the molecules might contribute to the effects of the aromatic compounds. Localization and shape of pyrene and related compounds are similar to cholesterol and therefore these molecules could behave as such.

Poster PDF
2017 – lnvestigation of the Ion Channels hTMEM16A/Ano1 and TRPC5 and their Modulation by Intracellular Calcium
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384) poster, BPS Meeting 2017
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2017 – Mechanisms of charge transfer in human copper ATPases ATP7A and ATP7B
SURFE2R ONE (a predecessor model of SURFE2R N1) Publication in IUBMB Life (2017) Authors: Tadini-Buoninsegni F., Smeazzetto S.

ATP7A and ATP7B are Cu+ -transporting ATPases of subclass IB and play a fundamental role in intracellular copper homeostasis. ATP7A/B transfer Cu+ ions across the membrane from delivery to acceptor proteins without establishing a free Cu+ gradient. Transfer of copper across the membrane is coupled to ATP hydrolysis. Current measurements on solid supported membranes (SSM) were performed to investigate the mechanism of copper-related charge transfer across ATP7A and ATP7B. SSM measurements demonstrated that electrogenic copper displacement occurs within ATP7A/B following addition of ATP and formation of the phosphorylated intermediate. Comparison of the time constants for cation displacement in ATP7A/B and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ -ATPase is consistent with the slower phosphoenzyme formation in copper ATPases. Moreover, ATP-dependent copper transfer in ATP7A/B is not affected by varying the pH, suggesting that net proton counter-transport may not occur in copper ATPases. Platinum anticancer drugs activate ATP7A/B and are subjected to ATP-dependent vectorial displacement with a mechanism analogous to that of copper.

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2017 – Mitochondria sustain store-operated currents in colon cancer cells but not in normal colonic cells: reversal by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Port-a-Patch Publication in Oncotarget (2017) Authors: Hernández-Morales M., Sobradillo D., Valero R.A., Muñoz E., Ubierna D., Moyer M.P., Núñez L., Villalobos C.

Tumor cells undergo a critical remodeling of intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis that contribute to important cancer hallmarks. Store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE), a Ca2+ entry pathway modulated by mitochondria, is dramatically enhanced in colon cancer cells. In addition, most cancer cells display the Warburg effect, a metabolic switch from mitochondrial metabolism to glycolysis that provides survival advantages. Accordingly, we investigated mitochondria control of store-operated currents (SOCs) in two cell lines previously selected for representing human normal colonic cells and colon cancer cells. We found that, in normal cells, mitochondria are important for SOCs activity but they are unable to prevent current inactivation. In contrast, in colon cancer cells, mitochondria are dispensable for SOCs activation but are able to prevent the slow, Ca2+-dependent inactivation of SOCs. This effect is associated to increased ability of tumor cell mitochondria to take up Ca2+ due to increased mitochondrial potential (ΔΨ) linked to the Warburg effect. Consistently with this view, selected non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) depolarize mitochondria, inhibit mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake and promote SOC inactivation, leading to inhibition of both SOCE and cancer cell proliferation. Thus, mitochondria sustain store-operated currents in colon cancer cells but not in normal colonic cells and this effect is counteracted by selected NSAIDs providing a mechanism for cancer chemoprevention.

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2017 – Molecular determinants of permeation in a fluoride-specific ion channel
Orbit mini in eLife (2017) Authors: Last .B., Sun S., Pham M.C., Miller C.

Fluoride ion channels of the Fluc family combat toxicity arising from accumulation of environmental F-. Although crystal structures are known, the densely packed pore region has precluded delineation of the ion pathway. Here we chart out the Fluc pore and characterize its chemical requirements for transport. A ladder of H-bond donating residues creates a ‘polar track’ demarking the ion-conduction pathway. Surprisingly, while track polarity is well conserved, polarity is nonetheless functionally dispensable at several positions. A threonine at one end of the pore engages in vital interactions through its β-branched methyl group. Two critical central phenylalanines that directly coordinate F- through a quadrupolar-ion interaction cannot be functionally substituted by aromatic, non-polar, or polar sidechains. The only functional replacement is methionine, which coordinates F- through its partially positive γ-methylene in mimicry of phenylalanine’s quadrupolar interaction. These results demonstrate the unusual chemical requirements for selectively transporting the strongly H-bonding F- anion.

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2017 – Myoclonus Epilepsy and Ataxia due to KCNC1 Mutation: Analysis of 20 Cases and K+ Channel Properties
Patchliner Publication in Annals in Neurobiology (2017) Authors: Oliver K.L., Franceschetti S., Milligan C.J., Muona M., Mandelstam S.A., Canafoglia L., Boguszewska-Chachulska A.M., Korczyn A.D.,Bisulli F., Di BoNaVentura C., Ragona F., Michelucci R., Ben-Zeev B., Straussberg R., Panzica F., Massano J., Friedman D., Crespel A., Engelsen B.A., Andermann F., Andermann E., Spodar K., Lasek-Bal A., Riguzzi P.,Pasini E., Tinuper P., Licchetta L., Gardella E., Lindenau M., Wulf A., Møller R.S.

Objective:To comprehensively describe the new syndrome of myoclonus epilepsy and ataxia due to potassium channel mutation (MEAK), including cellular electrophysiological characterization of observed clinical improvement with fever.Methods:We analyzed clinical, electroclinical, and neuroimaging data for 20 patients with MEAK due to recurrent KCNC1 p.R320H mutation. In vitro electrophysiological studies were conducted using whole cell patch-clamp to explore biophysical properties of wild-type and mutant KV3.1 channels.Results:Symptoms began at between 3 and 15 years of age (median = 9.5), with progressively severe myoclonus and rare tonic–clonic seizures. Ataxia was present early, but quickly became overshadowed by myoclonus; 10 patients were wheelchair-bound by their late teenage years. Mild cognitive decline occurred in half. Early death was not observed. Electroencephalogram (EEG) showed generalized spike and polyspike wave discharges, with documented photosensitivity in most. Polygraphic EEG–electromyographic studies demonstrated a cortical origin for myoclonus and striking coactivation of agonist and antagonist muscles. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed symmetrical cerebellar atrophy, which appeared progressive, and a prominent corpus callosum. Unexpectedly, transient clinical improvement with fever was noted in 6 patients. To explore this, we performed high-temperature in vitro recordings. At elevated temperatures, there was a robust leftward shift in activation of wild-type KV3.1, increasing channel availability.Interpretation:MEAK has a relatively homogeneous presentation, resembling Unverricht–Lundborg disease, despite the genetic and biological basis being quite different. A remarkable improvement with fever may be explained by the temperature-dependent leftward shift in activation of wild-type KV3.1 subunit–containing channels, which would counter the loss of function observed for mutant channels, highlighting KCNC1 as a potential target for precision therapeutics.

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2017 – Organelle membrane derived patches: reshaping classical methods for new targets
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Nature Scientific Reports (2017)    Authors: Shapovalov G., Ritaine A., Bidaux G., Slomianny, C., Borowiec A-S., Gordienko D., Bultynck G., Skryma R., Prevarskaya N.

Intracellular ion channels are involved in multiple signaling processes, including such crucial ones as regulation of cellular motility and fate. With 95% of the cellular membrane belonging to intracellular organelles, it is hard to overestimate the importance of intracellular ion channels. Multiple studies have been performed on these channels over the years, however, a unified approach allowing not only to characterize their activity but also to study their regulation by partner proteins, analogous to the patch clamp “golden standard”, is lacking. Here, we present a universal approach that combines the extraction of intracellular membrane fractions with the preparation of patchable substrates that allows to characterize these channels in endogenous protein environment and to study their regulation by partner proteins. We validate this method by characterizing activity of multiple intracellular ion channels localized to different organelles and by providing detailed electrophysiological characterization of the regulation of IP3R activity by endogenous Bcl-2. Thus, after synthesis and reshaping of the well-established approaches, organelle membrane derived patch clamp provides the means to assess ion channels from arbitrary cellular membranes at the single channel level.

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2017 – Peptidomic analysis of the venom of the solitary bee Xylocopa appendiculata circumvolans
Port-a-Patch Publication in Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases (2017) Authors: Kazuma K., Ando K., Nihei K., Wang X., Rangel M., Franzolin M.R., Mori-Yasumoto K., Sekita S., Kadowaki M., Satake M., Konno K.

Background: Among the hymenopteran insect venoms, those from social wasps and bees – such as honeybee, hornets and paper wasps – have been well documented. Their venoms are composed of a number of peptides and proteins and used for defending their nests and themselves from predators. In contrast, the venoms of solitary wasps and bees have not been the object of further research. In case of solitary bees, only major peptide components in a few venoms have been addressed. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to explore the peptide component profile of the venom from the solitary bee Xylocopa appendiculata circumvolans by peptidomic analysis with using LC-MS. Methods: A reverse-phase HPLC connected to ESI-OrbiTrap MS was used for LC-MS. On-line mass fingerprinting was made from TIC, and data-dependent tandem mass spectrometry gave MSMS spectra. A major peptide component was isolated by reverse-phase HPLC by conventional way, and its sequence was determined by Edman degradation, which was finally corroborated by solid phase synthesis. Using the synthetic specimen, biological activities (antimicrobial activity, mast cell devaluation, hemolysis, leishmanicidal activity) and pore formation in artificial lipid bilayer were evaluated. Results: On-line mass fingerprinting revealed that the crude venom contained 124 components. MS/MS analysis gave 75 full sequences of the peptide components. Most of these are related to the major and novel peptide, xylopin. Its sequence, GFVALLKKLPLILKHLH-NH2, has characteristic features of linear cationic α-helical peptides; rich in hydrophobic and basic amino acids with no disulfide bond, and accordingly, it can be predicted to adopt an amphipathic α-helix secondary structure. In biological evaluation, xylopin exhibited broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, and moderate mast cell degranulation and leishmanicidal activities, but showed virtually no hemolytic activity. Additionally, the peptide was able to incorporate pores in artificial lipid bilayers of azolectin, confirming the mechanism of the cytolytic activity by pore formation in biological membranes. Conclusions: LC-ESI-MS and MS/MS analysis of the crude venom extract from a solitary bee Xylocopa appendiculata circumvolans revealed that the component profile of this venom mostly consisted of small peptides. The major peptide components, xylopin and xylopinin, were purified and characterized in a conventional manner. Their chemical and biological characteristics, belonging to linear cationic α-helical peptides, are similar to the known solitary bee venom peptides, melectin and osmin. Pore formation in artificial lipid bilayers was demonstrated for the first time with a solitary bee peptide.

Poster PDF
2017 – Pharmacological Characterization of the NMDA A-B-C by Automated Patch Clamp
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384) poster, BPS Meeting 2017
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2017 – Polydim-I antimicrobial activity against MDR bacteria and its model membrane interaction
Port-a-Patch and  Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in PLoS ONE (2017)  Authors: Rangel M., Fernandes dos Santos Castro F., Mota-Lima L.D., Clissa P.B., Martins D.B., Perez dos Santos Cabrera M., Mortari M.R.

The rapid spread of multi-drug resistant pathogens represents a serious threat to public health, considering factors such as high mortality rates, treatment restrictions and high prevalence of multi-drug resistant bacteria in the hospital environment. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) may exhibit powerful antimicrobial activity against different and diverse microorganisms, also presenting the advantage of absence or low toxicity towards animal cells. In this study, the evaluation of the antimicrobial activity against multi-drug resistant bacteria of a recently described AMP from wasp, Polydim-I, was performed. Polydim-I presented activity against standard strains (non-carriers of multi-resistant genes) that are susceptible to commercial antimicrobials, and also against multi-drug resistant strains at concentrations bellow 1μg/ml (0.41 μM). This is a rather low concentration among those reported for AMPs. At this concentration we found out that Polydim-I inhibits almost 100% of the tested pathogens growth, while with the ATCC strains the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC100) is 400 times higher. Also, in relation to in vitro activity of conventional drugs against multi-drug resistant bacteria strains, Polydim-I is almost 10 times more efficient and with broader spectrum. Cationic AMPs are known as multi-target compounds and specially for targeting the phospholipid matrix of bacterial membranes. Exploring the interactions of Polydim-I with lipid bilayers, we have confirmed that this interaction is involved in the mechanism of action. Circular dichroism experiments showed that Polydim-I undergoes a conformational transition from random coil to a mostly helical conformation in the presence of membrane mimetic environments. Zeta potential measurements confirmed the binding and partial charge neutralization of anionic asolectin vesicles, and also suggested a possible aggregation of peptide molecules. FTIR experiments confirmed that some peptide aggregation occurs, which is minimized in the presence of strongly anionic micelles of sodium dodecyl sulfate. Also, Polydim-I induced channel-like structures formation to asolectin lipid bilayers, as demonstrated in the electrophysiology experiments. We suggest that cationic Polydim-I targets the membrane lipids due to electrostatic attraction, partially accumulates, neutralizing the opposite charges and induces pore formation. Similar mechanism of action has already been suggested for other peptides from wasp venoms, especially mastoparans.

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2017 – Potassium channels KV1.3 and KCa3.1 cooperatively and compensatorily regulate antigen-specific memory T cell functions
SyncroPatch 768PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384/768i) Publication in Nature Communications (2017) Authors: Chiang E.Y., Li T., Jeet S., Peng I., Zhang J., Lee W. P., DeVoss J., Caplazi P., Chen J., Warming S., Hackos D.H., Mukund S., Koth C.M., Grogan J.L.

Voltage-gated KV1.3 and Ca2+-dependent KCa3.1 are the most prevalent K+ channels expressed by human and rat T cells. Despite the preferential upregulation of KV1.3 over KCa3.1 on autoantigen-experienced effector memory T cells, whether KV1.3 is required for their induction and function is unclear. Here we show, using KV1.3-deficient rats, that KV1.3 is involved in the development of chronically activated antigen-specific T cells. Several immune responses are normal in KV1.3 knockout (KO) rats, suggesting that KCa3.1 can compensate for the absence of KV1.3 under these specific settings. However, experiments with KV1.3 KO rats and KV1.3 siRNA knockdown or channel-specific inhibition of human T cells show that maximal T-cell responses against autoantigen or repeated tetanus toxoid stimulations require both KV1.3 and KCa3.1. Finally, our data also suggest that T-cell dependency on KV1.3 or KCa3.1 might be irreversibly modulated by antigen exposure.

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2017 – Prolonged immunomodulation in inflammatory arthritis using the selective KV1.3 channel blocker HsTX1[R14A] and its PEGylated analog
Port-a-Patch Publication in Clinical Immunology (2017) Authors: Tanner M.R., Tajhya R.B., Huq R., Gehrmann E.J., Rodarte K.E., Atik M.A., Norton R.S., Pennington R.W., Beeton C.

Effector memory T lymphocytes (TEM cells) that lack expression of CCR7 are major drivers of inflammation in a number of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. The KV1.3 potassium channel is a key regulator of CCR7− TEM cell activation. Blocking KV1.3 inhibits TEM cell activation and attenuates inflammation in autoimmunity, and as such, KV1.3 has emerged as a promising target for the treatment of TEM cell-mediated autoimmune diseases. The scorpion venom-derived peptide HsTX1 and its analog HsTX1[R14A] are potent KV1.3 blockers and HsTX1[R14A] is selective for KV1.3 over closely-related KV1 channels. PEGylation of HsTX1[R14A] to create a KV1.3 blocker with a long circulating half-life reduced its affinity but not its selectivity for KV1.3, dramatically reduced its adsorption to inert surfaces, and enhanced its circulating half-life in rats. PEG-HsTX1[R14A] is equipotent to HsTX1[R14A] in preferential inhibition of human and rat CCR7− TEM cell proliferation, leaving CCR7+ naïve and central memory T cells able to proliferate. It reduced inflammation in an active delayed-type hypersensitivity model and in the pristane-induced arthritis (PIA) model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Importantly, a single subcutaneous dose of PEG-HsTX1[R14A] reduced inflammation in PIA for a longer period of time than the non-PEGylated HsTX1[R14A]. Together, these data indicate that HsTX1[R14A] and PEG-HsTX1[R14A] are effective in a model of RA and are therefore potential therapeutics for TEM cell-mediated autoimmune diseases. PEG-HsTX1[R14A] has the additional advantages of reduced non-specific adsorption to inert surfaces and enhanced circulating half-life.

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2017 – Purinergic receptors P2RX4 and P2RX7 in familial multiple sclerosis
Patchliner Publication in Human Mutation (2017) Authors: Sadovnick A.D., Gu B.J., Traboulsee A.L., Bernales C.Q., Encarnacion M., Yee I.M., Criscuoli M.G., Huang X., Ou A., Milligan C.J., Petrou S, Wiley J.S, Vilariño-Güell C.

Genetic variants in the purinergic receptors P2RX4 and P2RX7 have been shown to affect susceptibility to multiple sclerosis (MS). In this study, we set out to evaluate whether rare coding variants of major effect could also be identified in these purinergic receptors. Sequencing analysis of P2RX4 and P2RX7 in 193 MS patients and 100 controls led to the identification of a rare three variant haplotype (P2RX7 rs140915863:C>T [p.T205M], P2RX7 rs201921967:A>G [p.N361S], and P2RX4 rs765866317:G>A [p.G135S]) segregating with disease in a multi-incident family with six family members diagnosed with MS (logarithm of odds = 3.07). Functional analysis of this haplotype in HEK293 cells revealed impaired P2X7 surface expression (P  0.01), resulting in over 95% inhibition of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-induced pore function (P  0.001) and a marked reduction in phagocytic ability (P  0.05). In addition, transfected cells showed 40% increased peak ATP-induced inward current (P  0.01), and a greater Ca2+ response to the P2X4 135S variant compared with wild type (P  0.0001). Our study nominates rare genetic variants in P2RX4 and P2RX7 as major genetic contributors to disease, further supporting a role for these purinergic receptors in MS and the disruption of transmembrane cation channels leading to impairment of phagocytosis as the pathological mechanisms of disease.

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2017 – SSM-Based Electrophysiology for Transporter Research
SURFE2R N1 and SURFE2R 96SE book chapter in Methody in Enzymology Authors: Bazzone A., Barthmes M., Fendler K.

Functional characterization of transport proteins using conventional electrophysiology can be challenging, especially for low turnover transporters or transporters from bacteria and intracellular compartments. Solid-supported membrane (SSM)-based electrophysiology is a sensitive and cell-free assay technique for the characterization of electrogenic membrane proteins. Purified proteins reconstituted into proteoliposomes or membrane vesicles from cell culture or native tissues are adsorbed to the sensor holding an SSM. A substrate or a ligand is applied via rapid solution exchange. The electrogenic transporter activity charges the sensor, which is recorded as a transient current. The high stability of the SSM allows cumulative measurements on the same sensor using different experimental conditions. This allows the determination of kinetic properties including EC50, IC50, Km, KD, and rate constants of electrogenic reactions. About 100 different transporters have been measured so far using this technique, among them symporters, exchangers, uniporters, ATP-, redox-, and light-driven ion pumps, as well as receptors and ion channels. Different instruments apply this technique: the laboratory setups use a closed flow-through arrangement, while the commercially available SURFE2R N1 resembles a pipetting robot. For drug screening purposes high-throughput systems, such as the SURFE2R 96SE enable the simultaneous measurement of up to 96 sensors.

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2017 – Stability and dynamics of membrane-spanning DNA nanopores
Orbit 16 Publication in Nature Communications (2017) Authors: Maingi V., Burns J.R., Uusitalo J.J., Howorka S., Marrink S.J., Sansom M.S.P.

Recently developed DNA-based analogues of membrane proteins have advanced synthetic biology. A fundamental question is how hydrophilic nanostructures reside in the hydrophobic environment of the membrane. Here, we use multiscale molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to explore the structure, stability and dynamics of an archetypical DNA nanotube inserted via a ring of membrane anchors into a phospholipid bilayer. Coarse-grained MD reveals that the lipids reorganize locally to interact closely with the membrane-spanning section of the DNA tube. Steered simulations along the bilayer normal establish the metastable nature of the inserted pore, yielding a force profile with barriers for membrane exit due to the membrane anchors. Atomistic, equilibrium simulations at two salt concentrations confirm the close packing of lipid around of the stably inserted DNA pore and its cation selectivity, while revealing localized structural fluctuations. The wide-ranging and detailed insight informs the design of next-generation DNA pores for synthetic biology or biomedicine.

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2017 – Structural and electrophysiological dysfunctions due to increased endoplasmic reticulum stress in a long-term pacing model using human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived ventricular cardiomyocytes
CardioExcyte 96 Publication in Stem Cell Research and Therapy (2017)Authors: Cui C., Geng L., Shi J., Zhu Y., Yang G., Wang Z., Wang J., Chen M.

Background: Long-term ventricular pacing has deleterious effects and becomes more significant when cumulative percent ventricular pacing (Cum%VP) exceeds 40% of time. However, cellular disturbances and pathways by which pacing leads to myocardial disorders are not well understood. Attempts to resolve these questions have been hampered by difficulties in obtaining human cardiac tissue and the inability to build a longer-lasting (lasting longer than weeks) pacing model in vitro. Methods: Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived ventricular cardiomyocytes (VCMs) were cultured in the presence of electrical stimulation for 2 weeks. Quantitative structural and electrophysiological analyses were used to define the functional disturbances of pacing. Results: Compared to controls, paced VCMs exhibited a remarkable reduction in the contractile protein expression, an increased apoptosis ratio and electrophysiological remodelling in a Cum%VP-dependent manner. Investigation of the protein expression levels revealed that long-term pacing universally activated both ER stress and downstream calpain. Moreover, the inhibition of calpain attenuated the adverse effects on the structural remodelling and increased the ICa, L in paced VCMs. Conclusions: The results demonstrated that pacing VCMs for 2 weeks in vitro led to a series of structural and electrophysiological dysfunctions. The increased ER stress and downstream calpain could be a central mechanism underlying the disease pathogenesis. This finding could represent a new therapeutic target in the management of long-term pacing patients.

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2017 – Synthetic Channel Specifically Inserts into the Lipid Bilayer of Gram-Positive Bacteria but not that of Mammalian Erythrocytes
Port-a-Patch Publication in Angewandte Chemie (2017) Authors: Zhang M., Zhu P.P., Xin P., Si W., Li Z.T., Hou J.L.

A series of tubular molecules with different lengths have been synthesized by attaching Trp-incorporated peptides to the pillar[5]arene backbone. The tubular molecules are able to insert into the lipid bilayer to form unimolecular transmembrane channels. One of the channels has been revealed to specifically insert into the bilayer of the Gram-positive bacteria. In contrast, this channel cannot insert into the membranes of the mammalian rat erythrocytes even at the high concentration of 100 μm. It was further demonstrated that, as a result of this high membrane selectivity, the channel exhibits efficient antimicrobial activity for the Gram-positive bacteria and very low hemolytic toxicity for mammalian erythrocytes.

2017 – The CiPA initiative – Origin, Idea, Status, Issues, and Impact on Drug Development
Dr. Herbert Himmel, Bayer Wuppertal, Germany

Nanion User Meeting
October 25.-26. 2017
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2017 – The Rotavirus NSP4 Viroporin Domain is a Calcium-conducting Ion Channel
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Nature Scientific Reports    Authors: Pham T., Perry J.L., Dosey T.L., Delcour L.H.,Hyser J.M.

Viroporins are small virus-encoded ion channel proteins. Most viroporins are monovalent selective cation channels, with few showing the ability to conduct divalent cations, like calcium (Ca2+). Nevertheless, some viroporins are known to disrupt host cell Ca2+ homeostasis, which is critical for virus replication and pathogenesis. Rotavirus nonstructural protein 4 (NSP4) is an endoplasmic reticulum transmembrane glycoprotein that has a viroporin domain (VPD), and NSP4 viroporin activity elevates cytosolic Ca2+ in mammalian cells. The goal of this study was to demonstrate that the NSP4 VPD forms an ion channel and determine whether the channel can conduct Ca2+. Using planar lipid bilayer and liposome patch clamp electrophysiology, we show that a synthetic peptide of the NSP4 VPD has ion channel activity. The NSP4 VPD was selective for cations over anions and channel activity was observed to have both well-defined “square top” openings as well as fast current fluctuations, similar to other viroporins. Importantly, the NSP4 VPD showed similar conductance of divalent cations (Ca2+ and Ba2+) as monovalent cations (K+), but a viroporin defective mutant lacked Ca2+ conductivity. These data demonstrate that the NSP4 VPD is a Ca2+-conducting viroporin and establish the mechanism by which NSP4 disturbs host cell Ca2+ homeostasis.

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2017 – Trifluoperazine-Induced Suicidal Erythrocyte Death and S-Nitrosylation Inhibition, Reversed by the Nitric Oxide Donor Sodium Nitroprusside
Patchliner Publication in Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry (2017) Authors: Ghashghaeinia M., Wesseling M.C., Ramos E., Petkova-Kirova P., Waibel S., Lang E., Bissinger R., Alzoubi K., Edelmann B., Hosseinzadeh Z., Dreischer P., Shahvaroughi-Farahani A., Mrowietz U., Köberle M., Kaestner L., Bernhardt I., Martínez-Ruiz A., Wieder T., Lang F.

Background and Purpose: The high potency antipsychotic drug trifluoperazine (10-[3-(4-methyl-1-piperazinyl)-propyl]-2-(trifluoromethyl)-(10)H-phenothiazine dihydrochloride; TFP) may either counteract or promote suicidal cell death or apoptosis. Similar to apoptosis, erythrocytes may enter eryptosis, characterized by phosphatidylserine exposure at the cell surface and cell shrinkage. Eryptosis can be stimulated by an increase in cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) and inhibited by nitric oxide (NO). We explored whether TFP treatment of erythrocytes induces phosphatidylserine exposure, cell shrinkage, and calcium influx, whether it impairs S-nitrosylation and whether these effects are inhibited by NO.Methods:Phosphatidylserine exposure at the cell surface was estimated from annexin-V-binding, cell volume from forward scatter, [Ca2+]i from Fluo3-fluorescence, and protein nitrosylation from fluorescence switch of the Bodipy-TMR/Sypro Ruby signal. Results: Exposure of human erythrocytes to TFP significantly enhanced the percentage of annexin-V-binding cells, raised [Ca2+]i, and decreased S-nitrosylation. The effect of TFP on annexin-V-binding was not affected by removal of extracellular Ca2+ alone, but was significantly inhibited by pre-treatment with sodium nitroprusside (SNP), an effect significantly augmented by additional removal of extracellular Ca2+. A 3 hours treatment with 0.1 µM Ca2+ ionophore ionomycin triggered annexin-V-binding and cell shrinkage, effects fully reversed by removal of extracellular Ca2+. Conclusions: TFP induces eryptosis and decreases protein S-nitrosylation, effects blunted by nitroprusside. The effect of nitroprusside is attenuated in the presence of extracellular Ca2+.

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2017 – Validation of ADAM10 metalloprotease as a Bacillus thuringiensis Cry3Aa toxin functional receptor in Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata)
Orbit 16 Publication in Insect Molecular Biology (2017) Authors: Ruiz-Arroyo V.M., García-Robles I., Ochoa-Campuzano C., Goig G.A., Zaitseva E., Baaken G., Martínez-Ramírez A.C., Rausell C., Real M.D.

Bacillus thuringiensis parasporal crystal proteins (Cry proteins) are insecticidal pore-forming toxins that bind to specific receptor molecules on the brush border membrane of susceptible insect midgut cells to exert their toxic action. In the Colorado potato beetle (CPB), a coleopteran pest, we previously proposed that interaction of Cry3Aa toxin with a CPB ADAM10 metalloprotease is an essential part of the mode of action of this toxin. Here, we annotated the gene sequence encoding an ADAM10 metalloprotease protein (CPB-ADAM10) in the CPB genome sequencing project, and using RNA interference gene silencing we demonstrated that CPB-ADAM10 is a Cry3Aa toxin functional receptor in CPB. Cry3Aa toxicity was significantly lower in CPB-ADAM10 silenced larvae and in vitro toxin pore-forming ability was greatly diminished in lipid planar bilayers fused with CPB brush border membrane vesicles (BBMVs) prepared from CPB-ADAM10 silenced larvae. In accordance with our previous data that indicated this toxin was a substrate of ADAM10 in CPB, Cry3Aa toxin membrane-associated proteolysis was altered when CPB BBMVs lacked ADAM10. The functional validation of CPB-ADAM10 as a Cry3Aa toxin receptor in CPB expands the already recognized role of ADAM10 as a pathogenicity determinant of pore-forming toxins in humans to an invertebrate species.

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2018 – 3-Iodothyronamine Activates a Set of Membrane Proteins in Murine Hypothalamic Cell Lines
Port-a-Patch Publication in Frontiers in Endocrinology (2018) Authors: Bräunig J., Mergler S., Jyrch S., Hoefig C.S., Rosowski M., Mittag J., Biebermann H., Khajavi N.

3-Iodothyronamine (3-T1AM) is an endogenous thyroid hormone metabolite. The profound pharmacological effects of 3-T1AM on energy metabolism and thermal homeostasis have raised interest to elucidate its signaling properties in tissues that pertain to metabolic regulation and thermogenesis. Previous studies identified G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and transient receptor potential channels (TRPs) as targets of 3-T1AM in different cell types. These two superfamilies of membrane proteins are largely expressed in tissue which influences energy balance and metabolism. As the first indication that 3-T1AM virtually modulates the function of the neurons in hypothalamus, we observed that intraperitoneal administration of 50 mg/kg bodyweight of 3-T1AM significantly increased the c-FOS activation in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of C57BL/6 mice. To elucidate the underlying mechanism behind this 3-T1AM-induced signalosome, we used three different murine hypothalamic cell lines, which are all known to express PVN markers, GT1-7, mHypoE-N39 (N39) and mHypoE-N41 (N41). Various aminergic GPCRs, which are the known targets of 3-T1AM, as well as numerous members of TRP channel superfamily, are expressed in these cell lines. Effects of 3-T1AM on activation of GPCRs were tested for the two major signaling pathways, the action of Gαs/adenylyl cyclase and TRPM. Here, we demonstrated that this thyroid hormone metabolite has no significant effect on Gi/o signaling and only a minor effect on the Gαs/adenylyl cyclase pathway, despite the expression of known GPCR targets of 3-T1AM. Next, to test for other potential mechanisms involved in 3-T1AM-induced c-FOS activation in PVN, we evaluated the effect of 3-T1AM on the intracellular Ca2+ concentration and whole-cell currents. The fluorescence-optic measurements showed a significant increase of intracellular Ca2+ concentration in the three cell lines in the presence of 10 μM 3-T1AM. Furthermore, this thyroid hormone metabolite led to an increase of whole-cell currents in N41 cells. Interestingly, the TRPM8 selective inhibitor (10 μM AMTB) reduced the 3-T1AM stimulatory effects on cytosolic Ca2+ and whole-cell currents. Our results suggest that the profound pharmacological effects of 3-T1AM on selected brain nuclei of murine hypothalamus, which are known to be involved in energy metabolism and thermoregulation, might be partially attributable to TRP channel activation in hypothalamic cells.

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2018 – A direct role for hepatitis B virus X protein in inducing mitochondrial membrane permeabilization
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Journal of Viral Hepatitis (2018) Authors: Lee H‐R., Cho Y.Y., Lee G.Y., You D‐g., Yoo Y.D., Kim Y.J.

Hepatitis B virus X protein (HBx) acts as a multifunctional protein that regulates intracellular signalling pathways during HBV infection. It has mainly been studied in terms of its interaction with cellular proteins. Here, we show that HBx induces membrane permeabilization independently of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore complex. We generated mitochondrial outer membrane‐mimic liposomes to observe the direct effects of HBx on membranes. We found that HBx induced membrane permeabilization, and the region comprising the transmembrane domain and the mitochondrial‐targeting sequence was sufficient for this process. Membrane permeabilization was inhibited by nonselective channel blockers or by N‐(n‐nonyl)deoxynojirimycin (NN‐DNJ), a viroporin inhibitor. Moreover, NN‐DNJ inhibited HBx‐induced mitochondrial depolarization in Huh‐7 cells. Based on the results of this study, we can postulate that the HBx protein itself is sufficient to induce mitochondrial membrane permeabilization. Our finding provides important information for a strategy of HBx targeting during HBV treatment

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2018 – A Hybrid Model for Safety Pharmacology on an Automated Patch Clamp Platform: Using Dynamic Clamp to Join iPSC-Derived Cardiomyocytes and Simulations of IK1 Ion Channels in Real-Time
Patchliner Publication in Frontiers in Physiology Authors: Goversen B., Becker., N., Stölzle-Feix S., Obergrussberger A., Vos M.A., van Veen T.A.B., Fertig N., de Boer T.P.

An important aspect of the Comprehensive In Vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) proposal is the use of human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and the confirmation of their predictive power in drug safety assays. The benefits of this cell source are clear; drugs can be tested in vitro on human cardiomyocytes, with patient-specific genotypes if needed, and differentiation efficiencies are generally excellent, resulting in a virtually limitless supply of cardiomyocytes. There are, however, several challenges that will have to be surmounted before successful establishment of hSC-CMs as an all-round predictive model for drug safety assays. An important factor is the relative electrophysiological immaturity of hSC-CMs, which limits arrhythmic responses to unsafe drugs that are pro-arrhythmic in humans. Potentially, immaturity may be improved functionally by creation of hybrid models, in which the dynamic clamp technique joins simulations of lacking cardiac ion channels (e.g., IK1) with hSC-CMs in real-time during patch clamp experiments. This approach has been used successfully in manual patch clamp experiments, but throughput is low. In this study, we combined dynamic clamp with automated patch clamp of iPSC-CMs in current clamp mode, and demonstrate that IK1 conductance can be added to iPSC-CMs on an automated patch clamp platform, resulting in an improved electrophysiological maturity.

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2018 – A Previously Unrecognized Ca2+-inhibited Nonselective Cation Channel in Red Blood Cells
Patchliner Publication in HemaSphere (2018) Authors: Petkova-Kirova P., Hertz L., Makhro A., Danielczok J., Huisjes R., Llaudet-Planas E., Mañú-Pereira, M., Vives Corrons J.-L., van Wijk R., Bogdanova A., Kaestner L.

Storage lesion of red blood cells (RBCs) is a well-recognizedprocess characterized by complex morphological and functional changes. Those changes deteriorate the life-saving quality of stored blood with a reported increase in mortality for some categories of patients receiving “old” versus “new” blood. The importance of RBC cation gradients (K+and Na+) dissipation in the process of storage lesion has been recently highlighted. Here we report a previously unrecognized nonselective cation channel in human RBCs (patch-clamp) activated whenever extracellular Ca2+ is removed and very likely contributing to the cation gradients dissipation when opened. In view of the existence of such a channel the use of non-Ca2+-chelating anticoagulants like heparin, preventing channel opening, can reduce cation gradients dissipation and help limit and delay RBCs storage lesion.

Poster PDF
2018 – A Sensor Based Technique for Pharmacological Safety Testing of Cardiac Transport Proteins NCX, NaKATPase and Respiratory Chain Complexes
CardioExcyte 96 and SUFE2R 96SE poster, SPS 2018
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2018 – A synthetic enzyme built from DNA flips 10e7 lipids per second in biological membranes
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in the Nature Communications (2018) Authors: Ohmann A, Li C-Y, Maffeo C, Al Nahas K, Baumann K.N, Göpfrich K, Yoo J, Keyser U.F, & Aksimentiev A.

Mimicking enzyme function and increasing performance of naturally evolved proteins is one of the most challenging and intriguing aims of nanoscience. Here, we employ DNA nanotechnology to design a synthetic enzyme that substantially outperforms its biological archetypes. Consisting of only eight strands, our DNA nanostructure spontaneously inserts into biological membranes by forming a toroidal pore that connects the membrane’s inner and outer leaflets. The membrane insertion catalyzes spontaneous transport of lipid molecules between the bilayer leaflets, rapidly equilibrating the lipid composition. Through a combination of microscopic simulations and fluorescence microscopy we find the lipid transport rate catalyzed by the DNA nanostructure exceeds 107 molecules per second, which is three orders of magnitude higher than the rate of lipid transport catalyzed by biological enzymes. Furthermore, we show that our DNA-based enzyme can control the composition of human cell membranes, which opens new avenues for applications of membrane-interacting DNA systems in medicine.

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2018 – Acyl chain asymmetry and polyunsaturation of brain phospholipids facilitate membrane vesiculation without leakage
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in eLife (2018) Authors: Manni M.M., Tiberti M.L., Pagnotta S., Barelli H., Gautier R., Antonny B.

Phospholipid membranes form cellular barriers but need to be flexible enough to divide by fission. Phospholipids generally contain a saturated fatty acid (FA) at position sn1 whereas the sn2-FA is saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Our understanding of the impact of phospholipid unsaturation on membrane flexibility and fission is fragmentary. Here, we provide a comprehensive view of the effects of the FA profile of phospholipids on membrane vesiculation by dynamin and endophilin. Coupled to simulations, this analysis indicates that: (i) phospholipids with two polyunsaturated FAs make membranes prone to vesiculation but highly permeable; (ii) asymmetric sn1-saturated-sn2-polyunsaturated phospholipids provide a tradeoff between efficient membrane vesiculation and low membrane permeability; (iii) When incorporated into phospholipids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; omega-3) makes membranes more deformable than arachidonic acid (omega-6). These results suggest an explanation for the abundance of sn1-saturated-sn2-DHA phospholipids in synaptic membranes and for the importance of the omega-6/omega-3 ratio on neuronal functions.

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2018 – An allosteric mechanism of inactivation in the calcium-dependent chloride channel BEST1
Port-a-Patch Publication in Journal of General Physiology (2018) Authors: Vaisey G., Long S.B.

Bestrophin proteins are calcium (Ca2+)-activated chloride channels. Mutations in bestrophin 1 (BEST1) cause macular degenerative disorders. Whole-cell recordings show that ionic currents through BEST1 run down over time, but it is unclear whether this behavior is intrinsic to the channel or the result of cellular factors. Here, using planar lipid bilayer recordings of purified BEST1, we show that current rundown is an inherent property of the channel that can now be characterized as inactivation. Inactivation depends on the cytosolic concentration of Ca2+, such that higher concentrations stimulate inactivation. We identify a C-terminal inactivation peptide that is necessary for inactivation and dynamically interacts with a receptor site on the channel. Alterations of the peptide or its receptor dramatically reduce inactivation. Unlike inactivation peptides of voltage-gated channels that bind within the ion pore, the receptor for the inactivation peptide is on the cytosolic surface of the channel and separated from the pore. Biochemical, structural, and electrophysiological analyses indicate that binding of the peptide to its receptor promotes inactivation, whereas dissociation prevents it. Using additional mutational studies we find that the “neck” constriction of the pore, which we have previously shown to act as the Ca2+-dependent activation gate, also functions as the inactivation gate. Our results indicate that unlike a ball-and-chain inactivation mechanism involving physical occlusion of the pore, inactivation in BEST1 occurs through an allosteric mechanism wherein binding of a peptide to a surface-exposed receptor controls a structurally distant gate.

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2018 – An aromatic cluster in Lysinibacillus sphaericus BinB involved in toxicity and proper in-membrane folding
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics (2018)   Authors: Chooduang A., Surya W., Torres J., Boonserm P.

The binary toxin from Lysinibacillus sphaericus has been successfully used for controlling mosquito-transmitted diseases. Based on structural alignments with other toxins, an aromatic cluster in the C-terminal domain of BinB (termed here BC) has been proposed to be important for toxicity. We tested this experimentally using BinB mutants bearing single mutations in this aromatic cluster. Consistent with the hypothesis, two of these mutations, F311A and F315A, were not toxic to Culex quinquefasciatus larvae and were unable to permeabilize liposomes or elicit ion channel activity, in contrast to wild-type BinB. Despite these effects, none of these mutations altered significantly the interaction between the activated forms of the two subunits in solution. These results indicate that these aromatic residues on the C-terminal domain of BinB are critical for toxin insertion in membranes. The latter can be by direct contact of these residues with the membrane surface, or by facilitating the formation a membrane-inserting oligomer.

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2018 – An update on the advancing high-throughput screening techniques for patch clamp-based ion channel screens: implications for drug discovery
SyncroPatch 384/768PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384/768i) and Patchliner Publication in Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery Authors: Obergrussberger A., Goetze T.A., Brinkwirth N., Becker N., Friis S., Rapedius M., Haarmann C., Rinke-Weiß I., Stölzle-Feix S., Brüggemann A., George M., Fertig N.

Introduction: Automated patch clamp (APC) devices have become commonplace in many industrial and academic labs. Their ease-of-use and flexibility have ensured that users can perform routine screening experiments and complex kinetic experiments on the same device without the need for months of training and experience. APC devices are being developed to increase throughput and flexibility. Areas covered: Experimental options such as temperature control, internal solution exchange and current clamp have been available on some APC devices for some time, and are being introduced on other devices. A comprehensive review of the literature pertaining to these features for the Patchliner, QPatch and Qube and data for these features for the SyncroPatch 384/768PE, is given. In addition, novel features such as dynamic clamp on the Patchliner and light stimulation of action potentials using channelrhodosin-2 is discussed. Expert opinion: APC devices will continue to play an important role in drug discovery. The instruments will be continually developed to meet the needs of HTS laboratories and for basic research. The use of stem cells and recordings in current clamp mode will increase, as will the development of complex addons such as dynamic clamp and optical stimulation on high throughput devices.

Poster PDF
2018 – Assessment of Drug Effects on Cardiomyocyte Function: Comprehensive In Vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) Results
2018 – Biophysical and Pharmacological Characterization of Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels Involved in Pain Pathways
Authors: Markus Rapedius
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2018 – Cargo induces retromer-mediated membrane remodeling on membranes
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in ascb Molecular Biology of the Cell (2018) Authors: Purushothaman L.K., Ungermann C.

Endosomes serve as a central sorting station of lipids and proteins that arrive via vesicular carrier from the plasma membrane and the Golgi complex. At the endosome, retromer complexes sort selected receptors and membrane proteins into tubules or vesicles that bud off the endosome. The mature endosome finally fuses with the lysosome. Retromer complexes consist of a cargo selection complex (CSC) and a membrane remodeling part (SNX-BAR or Snx3 in yeast), and different assemblies of retromer mediate recycling of different cargoes. Due to this complexity, the exact order of events that results in carrier formation is not yet understood. Here, we reconstituted this process on giant unilamellar vesicles together with purified retromer complexes from yeast and selected cargoes. Our data reveal that the membrane remodeling activity of both Snx3 and the SNX-BAR complex is strongly reduced at low concentrations, which can be reactivated by CSC. At even lower concentrations, these complexes still associate with membranes, but only remodel membranes in the presence of their specific cargoes. Our data thus favor a simple model, where cargo functions as a specific trigger of retromer-mediated sorting on endosomes.

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2018 – Cell‐free production of pore forming toxins: Functional analysis of thermostable direct hemolysin from Vibrio parahaemolyticus
Orbit 16 Publication in Engineering in Life Sciences (2018) Authors: Dondapati S.K., Wüstenhagen D.A., Strauch E., Kubick S.

The pore forming characteristic of TDH1 and TDH2 variants of thermostable direct hemolysin (TDH), a major toxin involved in the pathogenesis of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, was studied on a planar lipid bilayer painted over individual picoliter CaVities containing microelectrodes assembled in a multiarray. Both proteins formed pores upon insertion into the lipid bilayer which was shown as a shift in the conductance from the baseline current. TDH2 protein was able to produce stable currents and the currents were influenced by external factors like concentration, type of salt and voltage. The pore currents were influenced and showed a detectable response in the presence of polymers which makes them suitable for biotechnology applications.

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2018 – Cholesterol Enriched Archaeosomes as a Molecular System for Studying Interactions of Cholesterol-Dependent Cytolysins with Membranes
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in The Journal of Membrane Biology (2018) Authors: Rezelj S., Kozorog M, Švigelj T., Ulrih N.P., Žnidaršič N., Podobnik M., Anderluh G.

Archaeosomes are vesicles made of lipids from archaea. They possess many unique features in comparison to other lipid systems, with their high stability being the most prominent one, making them a promising system for biotechnological applications. Here, we report a preparation protocol of large unilamellar vesicles, giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs), and nanodiscs from archaeal lipids with incorporated cholesterol. Incorporation of cholesterol led to additional increase in thermal stability of vesicles. Surface plasmon resonance, sedimentation assays, intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence measurements, calcein release experiments, and GUVs experiments showed that members of cholesterol-dependent cytolysins, listeriolysin O (LLO), and perfringolysin O (PFO), bind to cholesterol-rich archaeosomes and thereby retain their pore-forming activity. Interestingly, we observed specific binding of LLO, but not PFO, to archaeosomes even in the absence of cholesterol. This suggests a new capacity of LLO to bind to carbohydrate headgroups of archaeal lipids. Furthermore, we were able to express LLO inside GUVs by cell-free expression. GUVs made from archaeal lipids were highly stable, which could be beneficial for synthetic biology applications. In summary, our results describe novel model membrane systems for studying membrane interactions of proteins and their potential use in biotechnology.

2018 – CiPA myocyte phase II validation study results: cross-site comparison using the CardioExcyte 96
Dr. Sonja Stölzle-Feix, Nanion Technologies
Webinar: "CiPA study: Bridging ion channel and myocyte data", September 12, 2018

Since 2005 the S7B and E14 guidances from ICH and FDA have been in place to assess a potential drug candidate's ability to cause long QT syndrome. To refine these guidelines, the FDA proposed the Comprehensive in vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative, where the assessment of drug effects on cardiac repolarization was one subject of investigation. Within the myocyte validation study, effects of pharmaceutical compounds on human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) were assessed and this article will focus on the evaluation of the proarrhythmic potential of 23 blinded drugs in four hiPSC-CM cell lines.

Experiments were performed on the CardioExcyte 96 at different sites. A combined readout of contractility (via impedance) and electrophysiology endpoints (field potentials) was performed.Our data demonstrates that hERG blockers such as dofetilide and further high risk categorized compounds prolong the field potential duration. Arrhythmia were detected in both impedance as well as field potential recordings. Intermediate risk compounds induced arrhythmia in almost all cases at the highest dose. In the case of low risk compounds, either a decrease in FPDmax was observed, or not a significant change from pre-addition control values.

With exceptions, hiPSC-CMs are sensitive and exhibit at least 10% delayed or shortened repolarization from pre-addition values and arrhythmia after drug application and thus can provide predictive cardiac electrophysiology data. The baseline electrophysiological parameters vary between iPS cells from different sources, therefore positive and negative control recordings are recommended

Poster PDF
2018 – Combining electrophysiology and contractility recordings for more complete assessment of hiPSC-CMs
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384), Patchliner and CardioExcyte 96 poster, Europhysiology Meeting 2018
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2018 – Counteracting desensitization of human α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors with bispyridinium compounds as an approach against organophosphorus poisoning
Patchliner Publication in Toxicology Letters (2018) Authors: Scheffel C., Niessen K.V., Rappenglück S., Wanner K.T., Thiermann H., Worek F., Seeger T.

Irreversible inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) resulting in accumulation of acetylcholine and overstimulation of muscarinic and nicotinic receptors accounts for the acute toxicity of organophosphorus compounds (OP). Accordingly, the mainstay pharmacotherapy against poisoning by OP comprises the competitive muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist atropine to treat muscarinic effects and, in addition, oximes to reactivate inhibited AChE. A therapeutic gap still remains in the treatment of desensitized nicotinic acetylcholine receptors following OP exposure. Hereby, nicotinic effects result in paralysis of the central and peripheral respiratory system if untreated. Thus, these receptors pose an essential target for therapeutic indication to address these life-threatening nicotinic symptoms of the cholinergic crisis. Identification of ligands regulating dynamic transitions between functional states by binding to modulatory sites appears to be a promising strategy for therapeutic intervention. In this patch clamp study, the ability of differently substituted bispyridinium non-oximes to “resensitize” i.e. to recover the activity of desensitized human homomeric α7-type nAChRs stably transfected in CHO cells was investigated and compared to the already described α7-specific positive allosteric modulator PNU-120596. The structures of these bispyridinium analogues were based on the lead structure of the tert-butyl-substituted bispyridinium propane MB327, which has been shown to have a positive therapeutic effect due to a non-competitive antagonistic action at muscle-type nAChRs in vivo and has been found to have a positive allosteric activity at neuronal receptors in vitro. Prior to test compounds, desensitization of hα7-nAChRs was verified by applying an excess of nicotine revealing activation at low, and desensitization at high concentrations. Thereby, desensitization could be reduced by modulation with PNU-120596. Desensitization was further verified by dose-response profiles of agonists, carbamoylcholine and epibatidine in the absence and presence of PNU-120596. Although less pronounced than PNU-120596 and the lead structure MB327, bispyridinium compounds, particularly those substituted at position 3 and 4, resensitized the nicotine desensitized hα7-nAChRs in a concentration-dependent manner and prolonged the mean channel open time. In summary, identification of more potent compounds able to restore nAChR function in OP intoxication is needed for development of a putative efficient antidote.

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2018 – Cross-site comparison of excitation-contraction coupling using impedance and field potential recordings in hiPSC cardiomyocytes
CardioExcyte 96 Publication in Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods (2018) Authors: Bot C.T., Juhasz K., Haeusermann F., Polonchuk L., Traebert M., Stölzle-Feix S.

Introduction: Since 2005 the S7B and E14 guidances from ICH and FDA have been in place to assess a potential drug candidate's ability to cause long QT syndrome. To refine these guidelines, the FDA proposed the Comprehensive in vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative, where the assessment of drug effects on cardiac repolarization was one subject of investigation. Within the myocyte validation study, effects of pharmaceutical compounds on human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) were assessed and this article will focus on the evaluation of the proarrhythmic potential of 23 blinded drugs in four hiPSC-CM cell lines.Methods: Experiments were performed on the CardioExcyte 96 at different sites. A combined readout of contractility (via impedance) and electrophysiology endpoints (field potentials) was performed.Results: Our data demonstrates that hERG blockers such as dofetilide and further high risk categorized compounds prolong the field potential duration. Arrhythmia were detected in both impedance as well as field potential recordings. Intermediate risk compounds induced arrhythmia in almost all cases at the highest dose. In the case of low risk compounds, either a decrease in FPD⁠max was observed, or not a significant change from pre-addition control values.Discussion: With exceptions, hiPSC-CMs are sensitive and exhibit at least 10% delayed or shortened repolarization from pre-addition values and arrhythmia after drug application and thus can provide predictive cardiac electrophysiology data. The baseline electrophysiological parameters vary between iPS cells from different sources, therefore positive and negative control recordings are recommended.

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2018 – Defined Bilayer Interactions of DNA Nanopores Revealed with a Nuclease-Based Nanoprobe Strategy
Orbit 16 Publication in ACS Nano (2018) Authors: Burns J.R., Howorka S.

DNA nanopores are a recent class of bilayer-puncturing nanodevices that can help advance biosensing, synthetic biology, and nanofluidics. Here, we create archetypal lipid-anchored DNA nanopores and characterize them with a nanoprobe-based approach to gain essential information about their interactions with bilayers. The strategy determines the molecular accessibility of DNA pores with a nuclease and can thus distinguish between the nanopores' membrane-adhering and membrane-spanning states. The analysis reveals, for example, that pores interact with bilayers in two steps whereby fast initial membrane tethering is followed by slower reorientation to the puncturing state. Tethering occurs for pores with one anchor, while puncturing requires multiple anchors. Both low and high-curvature membranes are good substrates for tethering, but efficient insertion proceeds only for high-curvature bilayers of the examined lipid composition. This is likely due to the localized lipid misalignments and the associated lower energetic barrier for pore permeation. Our study advances the fields of DNA nanotechnology and nanopores by overcoming the considerable experimental hurdle of efficient membrane insertion. It also provides mechanistic insights to aid the design of advanced nanopores, and offers a useful route to probe bilayer orientation of DNA nanostructures.

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2018 – Dehydroevodiamine and hortiamine, alkaloids from the traditional Chinese herbal drug Evodia rutaecarpa, are IKr blockers with proarrhythmic effects in vitro and in vivo
Patchliner Publication in Pharmacological Research (2018) Authors: Baburin I., Varkevisser R., Schramm A., Saxena P., Beyl S., Szkokan P., Linder T., Stary-Weinzinger A., van der Heyden M.A.G., Houtman M., Takanari H., Jonsson M., Beekman J.H.D., Hamburger M., Vos M.A., Hering S.

Evodiae fructus is a widely used herbal drug in traditional Chinese medicine. Evodia extract was found to inhibit hERG channels. The aim of the current study was to identify hERG inhibitors in Evodia extract and to investigate their potential proarrhythmic effects. Dehydroevodiamine (DHE) and hortiamine were identified as IKr (rapid delayed rectifier current) inhibitors in Evodia extract by HPLC-microfractionation and subsequent patch clamp studies on human embryonic kidney cells. DHE and hortiamine inhibited IKr with IC50s of 253.2 ± 26.3 nM and 144.8 ± 35.1 nM, respectively. In dog ventricular cardiomyocytes, DHE dose-dependently prolonged the action potential duration (APD). Early afterdepolarizations (EADs) were seen in 14, 67, 100, and 67% of cells after 0.01, 0.1, 1 and 10 μM DHE, respectively. The proarrhythmic potential of DHE was evaluated in 8 anesthetized rabbits and in 8 chronic atrioventricular block (CaVB) dogs. In rabbits, DHE increased the QT interval significantly by 12 ± 10% (0.05 mg/kg/5 min) and 60 ± 26% (0.5 mg/kg/5 min), and induced Torsade de Pointes arrhythmias (TdP, 0.5 mg/kg/5 min) in 2 rabbits. In CaVB dogs, 0.33 mg/kg/5 min DHE increased QT duration by 48 ± 10% (P  0.05*) and induced TdP in 2/4 dogs. A higher dose did not induce TdP. In human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs), methanolic extracts of Evodia, DHE and hortiamine dose-dependently prolonged APD. At 3 μM DHE and hortiamine induced EADs.hERG inhibition at submicromolar concentrations, APD prolongation and EADs in hiPSC-CMs and dose-dependent proarrhythmic effects of DHE at micromolar plasma concentrations in CaVB dogs should increase awareness regarding proarrhythmic effects of widely used Evodia extracts.

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2018 – Developing High-Throughput Assays to Analyze and Screen Electrophysiological Phenotypes
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) book chapter in Phenotypic Screening (2018) Authors: Pan J.Q., Baez-Nieto D., Allen A., Wang HR., Cottrell J.R.

Ion channels represent nearly a quarter of all targets that currently available medications modulate, and their dysfunction underlies increasing number of human diseases. Functional analysis of ion channels have traditionally been a bottleneck in large-scale analyses. Recent technological breakthroughs in automated planar electrophysiology have democratized the technique to enable high-throughput patch clamping at scale. In this chapter, we describe the methodology to perform a phenotypic screen on voltage-gated calcium channels across many different genetic coding variations and against small-molecule modulators. We first describe the procedures to establish inducible heterologous ion channel expression in HEK293 cells, where each cell incorporates one copy of a target protein cDNA—a step that is critical for producing stable and consistent expression of ion channels. We then describe the experimental and analytical methods for analyzing the function of ion channels using high-throughput planar electrophysiology.

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2018 – Development of an on-chip antibiotic permeability assay with single molecule detection capability
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in IEEE Transactions on NanoBioscience (2018) Authors: Guzel F.D., Citak F.

Electrophysiology is the method of choice to characterize membrane channels. In this study, we demonstrate a patch pipette based simple miniaturization that allows performing conductance measurements on a planar lipid bilayer in a microfluidic channel. Membrane proteins were reconstituted into Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUVs) by electroswelling, and GUVs with a single channel insertion were patched at the tip of pipette. We applied this approach to investigate the interactions of porins from E. coli with single antibiotics, and this will potentially provide information on the permeability rates. The results of this study suggest that this approach can be extended to the integration of several pipettes into the microfluidic channel from different positions, allowing the multiplexed recordings and also reducing the substrate consumption below μL volumes.

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2018 – Differential interactions of bacterial lipopolysaccharides with lipid membranes: implications for TRPA1-mediated chemosensation
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Scientific Reports (2018) Authors: Startek J.B., Talavera K., Voets T., Alpizar Y.A.

Bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS) activate the TRPA1 cation channels in sensory neurons, leading to acute pain and inflammation in mice and to aversive behaviors in fruit flies. However, the precise mechanisms underlying this effect remain elusive. Here we assessed the hypothesis that TRPA1 is activated by mechanical perturbations induced upon LPS insertion in the plasma membrane. We asked whether the effects of different LPS on TRPA1 relate to their ability to induce mechanical alterations in artificial and cellular membranes. We found that LPS from E. coli, but not from S. minnesota, activates TRPA1. We then assessed the effects of these LPS on lipid membranes using dyes whose fluorescence properties change upon alteration of the local lipid environment. E. coli LPS was more effective than S. minnesota LPS in shifting Laurdan’s emission spectrum towards lower wavelengths, increasing the fluorescence anisotropy of diphenylhexatriene and reducing the fluorescence intensity of merocyanine 540. These data indicate that E. coli LPS induces stronger changes in the local lipid environment than S. minnesota LPS, paralleling its distinct ability to activate TRPA1. Our findings indicate that LPS activate TRPA1 by producing mechanical perturbations in the plasma membrane and suggest that TRPA1-mediated chemosensation may result from primary mechanosensory mechanisms.

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2018 – Drug Interactions With the Ca2+-ATPase From Sarco(Endo)Plasmic Reticulum (SERCA)
SURFE2R 96SE Review article in Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences (2018) Authors: Tadini-Buoninsegni F., Smeazzetto S., Gualdani R., Moncelli M.R.

The sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) is an intracellular membrane transporter that utilizes the free energy provided by ATP hydrolysis for active transport of Ca2+ ions from the cytoplasm to the lumen of sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum. SERCA plays a fundamental role for cell calcium homeostasis and signaling in muscle cells and also in cells of other tissues. Because of its prominent role in many physiological processes, SERCA dysfunction is associated to diseases displaying various degrees of severity. SERCA transport activity can be inhibited by a variety of compounds with different chemical structures. Specific SERCA inhibitors were identified which have been instrumental in studies of the SERCA catalytic and transport mechanism. It has been proposed that SERCA inhibition may represent a novel therapeutic strategy to cure certain diseases by targeting SERCA activity in pathogens, parasites and cancer cells. Recently, novel small molecules have been developed that are able to stimulate SERCA activity. Such SERCA activators may also offer an innovative and promising therapeutic approach to treat diseases, such as heart failure, diabetes and metabolic disorders. In the present review the effects of pharmacologically relevant compounds on SERCA transport activity are presented. In particular, we will discuss the interaction of SERCA with specific inhibitors and activators that are potential therapeutic agents for different diseases.

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2018 – Dynamics and number of trans-SNARE complexes determine nascent fusion pore properties
Orbit mini Publication in Nature (2018) Authors: Bao H., Das D., Courtney N.A., Jiang Y., Briguglio J.S., Lou X., Roston D., Cui Q., Chanda B., Chapman E.R.

The fusion pore is the first crucial intermediate formed during exocytosis, yet little is known about the mechanisms that determine the size and kinetic properties of these transient structures1. Here, we reduced the number of available SNAREs (proteins that mediate vesicle fusion) in neurons and observed changes in transmitter release that are suggestive of alterations in fusion pores. To investigate these changes, we employed reconstituted fusion assays using nanodiscs to trap pores in their initial open state. Optical measurements revealed that increasing the number of SNARE complexes enhanced the rate of release from single pores and enabled the escape of larger cargoes. To determine whether this effect was due to changes in nascent pore size or to changes in stability, we developed an approach that uses nanodiscs and planar lipid bilayer electrophysiology to afford microsecond resolution at the single event level. Both pore size and stability were affected by SNARE copy number. Increasing the number of vesicle (v)-SNAREs per nanodisc from three to five caused a twofold increase in pore size and decreased the rate of pore closure by more than three orders of magnitude. Moreover, pairing of v-SNAREs and target (t)-SNAREs to form trans-SNARE complexes was highly dynamic: flickering nascent pores closed upon addition of a v-SNARE fragment, revealing that the fully assembled, stable SNARE complex does not form at this stage of exocytosis. Finally, a deletion at the base of the SNARE complex, which mimics the action of botulinum neurotoxin A, markedly reduced fusion pore stability. In summary, trans-SNARE complexes are dynamic, and the number of SNAREs recruited to drive fusion determines fundamental properties of individual pores.

Poster PDF
2018 – EAAT3 Investigated using SSM-based Electrophysiology
SURFE2R 96SE poster, Biophysics Annual Meeting 2018
2018 – Electrophysiological Characterization of Sugar Transporters using SSM-based Electrophysiology
Dr. Andre Bazzone, Application Scientist, Nanion Technologies GmbH, Germany
Andre is an expert in the field of SSM-based electrophysiology: He made his PhD at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt, Germany on the electrophysiological characterization of sugar transporters using the SSM-based electrophysiology in 2016. Right afterwards, he started as Application Scientist at Nanion Technologies and today he is an important member of the Nanion SURFE2R team.
Webinar: "The SURFE2R Technology: Assays for Pharmacological and Functional Characterization of Membrane Transporters"

SSM-based electrophysiology helps to understand the mechanisms of different transporters. The technique was used to characterize and compare different sugar transporters and their transport deficient mutants. Proton-coupled (LacY, XylE, FucP), sodium-coupled (MelB) and loosely coupled (GlcP) sugar transporters were analyzed. A general transport model was concluded from the electrophysiological data. Here we present the most intriguing results for these transporters as well as our conclusions regarding the transport mechanism. We will discuss (1) substrate specifity, (2) protonation and coupling mechanisms, (3) the impact of different driving forces, (4) sugar binding kinetics and (5) the significance of specific amino acids for the transport cycle. All together SSM-based electrophysiology helped to conclude a detailed kinetic model for sugar transporters.

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2018 – Electrophysiological experiments in microgravity: lessons learned and future challenges
Port-a-Patch Publication in Microgravity (2018) Authors: Wuest S.L., Gantenbein B., Ille F.,Egli M.

Advances in electrophysiological experiments have led to the discovery of mechanosensitive ion channels (MSCs) and the identification of the physiological function of specific MSCs. They are believed to play important roles in mechanosensitive pathways by allowing for cells to sense their mechanical environment. However, the physiological function of many MSCs has not been conclusively identified. Therefore, experiments have been developed that expose cells to various mechanical loads, such as shear flow, membrane indentation, osmotic challenges and hydrostatic pressure. In line with these experiments, mechanical unloading, as experienced in microgravity, represents an interesting alternative condition, since exposure to microgravity leads to a series of physiological adaption processes. As outlined in this review, electrophysiological experiments performed in microgravity have shown an influence of gravity on biological functions depending on ion channels at all hierarchical levels, from the cellular level to organs. In this context, calcium signaling represents an interesting cellular pathway, as it involves the direct action of calcium-permeable ion channels, and specific gravitatic cells have linked graviperception to this pathway. Multiple key proteins in the graviperception pathways have been identified. However, measurements on vertebrae cells have revealed controversial results. In conclusion, electrophysiological experiments in microgravity have shown that ion-channel-dependent physiological processes are altered in mechanically unloaded conditions. Future experiments may provide a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms.

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2018 – Electrophysiological investigation of the effect of structurally different bispyridinium non-oxime compounds on human α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor activity – An in vitro structure-activity analysis
Patchliner Publication in Toxicology Letters (2018) Authors: Scheffel C., Niessen K.V., Rappenglück S., Wanner K.T., Thiermann H., Worek F., Seeger T.

Organophosphorus compounds, including nerve agents and pesticides, exert their toxicity through irreversible inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) resulting in an accumulation of acetylcholine and functional impairment of muscarinic and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Current therapy comprises oximes to reactivate AChE and atropine to antagonize effects induced by muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Nicotinic malfunction leading to depression of the central and peripheral respiratory system is not directly treated calling for alternative therapeutic interventions. In the present study, we investigated the electrophysiological properties of the human nAChR subtype α7 (hα7-nAChR) and the functional effect of the 4-tert-butyl bispyridinium (BP) compound MB327 and of a series of novel substituted bispyridinium compounds on the receptors by an automated patch clamp technique. Activation of hα7-nAChRs was induced by nicotine and acetylcholine demonstrating rapid cationic influx up to 100 μM. Agonist-induced currents decayed within a few milliseconds revealing fast desensitization of the receptors. Application of higher agonist concentrations led to a decline of current amplitudes which seemed to be due to increasing receptor desensitization. When 100 μM of agonist was coapplied with low concentrations of the well characterized α7-specific positive allosteric modulator PNU-120596 (1 μM–10 μM), the maximum response and duration of nAChR activation were markedly augmented indicating an elongated mean open-time of receptors and prevention of receptor desensitization. However, co-application of increasing PNU-120596 concentrations (>10 μM) with agonist induced a decline of potentiated current responses. Although less pronounced than PNU-120596, six of the twenty tested substituted BP compounds, in particular those with a substituent at 3-position and 4-position at the pyridinium moieties, were found to potentiate current responses of hα7-nAChRs, most pronounced MB327. This effect was clearly depended on the presence of the agonist indicating a positive allosteric mechanism of these compounds. Besides potentiation at low concentrations, these compounds seem to interact at different binding sites on hα7-nAChRs since enhancement decreased at high concentrations.

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2018 – Enhanced Cardiomyocyte NLRP3 Inflammasome Signaling Promotes Atrial Fibrillation
Port-a-Patch Publication in Circulation (2018) Authors: Yao C., Veleva T., Scott L., Cao S., Li L., Chen G., Jeyabal P., Pan X., Alsina K.M., Abu-Taha I., Ghezelbash S., Reynolds C.L., Shen Y.H., LeMaire S.A., Schmitz W., Müller F.U., El-Armouche A., Eissa N.T., Beeton C., Nattel S. , Wehrens X.H.T., Dobrev D., Li N.

Background:Atrial fibrillation (AF) is frequently associated with enhanced inflammatory response. The “NACHT, LRR and PYD domain containing protein 3” (NLRP3)-inflammasome mediates caspase-1 activation and interleukin-1β release in immune cells, but is not known to play a role in cardiomyocytes (CMs). Here, we assessed the role of CM NLRP3-inflammasome in AF.Methods:NLRP3-inflammasome activation was assessed by immunoblot in atrial whole-tissue lysates and CMs from patients with paroxysmal (pAF) or long-standing persistent (chronic) AF (cAF). To determine whether CM-specific activation of NLPR3 is sufficient to promote AF, a CM-specific knock-in mouse model expressing constitutively active NLRP3 (CM-KI) wasestablished. In vivo electrophysiology was used to assess atrial arrhythmia vulnerability. To evaluate the mechanism of AF, electrical activation pattern, Ca2+ spark frequency (CaSF), atrialeffective refractory period (AERP), and morphology of atria were evaluated in CM-KI mice and WT littermates.Results:NLRP3-inflammasome activity was increased in atrial CMs of pAF and cAF patients. CM-KI mice developed spontaneous premature atrial contractions and inducible AF, which wasattenuated by a specific NLRP3-inflammasome inhibitor, MCC950. CM-KI mice exhibited ectopic activity, abnormal sarcoplasmic-reticulum Ca2+-release, AERP shortening and atrialhypertrophy. Adeno-associated virus subtype-9 mediated CM-specific knockdown of Nlrp3 suppressed AF development in CM-KI mice. Finally, genetic inhibition of Nlrp3 prevented AFdevelopment in CREM transgenic mice, a well-characterized mouse model of spontaneous AF.Conclusions:Our study establishes a novel pathophysiological role for CM NLRP3-inflammasome signaling with a mechanistic link to the pathogenesis of AF, and establishes inhibition of NLRP3 as a potential novel AF-therapy approach.

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2018 – Evaluation of possible proarrhythmic potency: comparison of the effect of dofetilide, cisapride, sotalol, terfenadine and verapamil on hERG and native IKr currents and on cardiac action potential
Patchliner Publication in Toxicological Sciences (2018) Authors: Orvos P., Kohajda Z., Szlovák J., Gazdag P., Árpádffy-Lovas T., Tóth D., Geramipour A., Tálosi L., Jost N., Varró A., Virág L.

Introduction: The proarrhythmic potency of drugs is usually attributed to the IKr current block. During safety pharmacology testing analysis of IKr in cardiomyocytes was replaced by hERG test using automated patch-clamp systems in stable transfected cell lines. Aim of the present study was to compare the effect of proarrhythmic compounds on hERG and IKr currents and on cardiac action potential. Methods: The hERG current was measured by using both automated and manual patch-clamp methods on HEK293 cells. The native ion currents (IKr, INaL, ICaL) were recorded from rabbit ventricular myocytes by manual patch-clamp technique. Action potentials in rabbit ventricular muscle and undiseased human donor hearts were studied by conventional microelectrode technique. Results: Dofetilide, cisapride, sotalol, terfenadine and verapamil blocked hERG channels at 37 °C with an IC50 of 7 nM, 18 nM, 343 μM, 165 nM and 214 nM, respectively. Using manual patch-clamp, the IC50 values of sotalol and terfenadine were 78 µM and 31 nM, respectively. The IC50 values calculated from IKr measurements at 37 °C were 13 nM, 26 nM, 52 μM, 54 nM and 268 nM, respectively. Cisapride, dofetilide and sotalol excessively lengthened, terfenadine and verapamil did not influence the action potential duration. Terfenadine significantly inhibited INaL and moderately ICaL, verapamil blocked only ICaL. Conclusions: Automated hERG assays may over/underestimate proarrhythmic risk. Manual patch-clamp has substantially higher sensitivity to certain drugs. Action potential studies are also required to analyze complex multichannel effects. Therefore, manual patch-clamp and action potential experiments should be a part of preclinical safety tests.

Poster PDF
2018 – Expression and pharmacology of GluA2-containing AMPA receptors in cell lines and stem cell-derived neurons
Port-a-Patch, Patchliner and SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384) poster, Europhysiology Meeting 2018
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2018 – Functional Analysis of Membrane Proteins Produced by Cell-Free Translation
Port-a-Patch and Orbit mini article in Protein Engineering (2018)   Authors: Dondapati S.K., Wüstenhagen D.A., Kubick S.

Cell-free production is a valuable and alternative method for the synthesis of membrane proteins. This system offers openness allowing the researchers to modify the reaction conditions without any boundaries. Additionally, the cell-free reactions are scalable from 20 μL up to several mL, faster and suitable for the high-throughput protein production. Here, we present two cell-free systems derived from Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Spodoptera frugiperda (Sf21) lysates. In the case of the E. coli cell-free system, nanodiscs are used for the solubilization and purification of membrane proteins. In the case of the Sf21 system, endogenous microsomes with an active translocon complex are present within the lysates which facilitate the incorporation of the bacterial potassium channel KcsA within the microsomal membranes. Following cell-free synthesis, these microsomes are directly used for the functional analysis of membrane proteins.

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2018 – Getting drugs into Gram-negative bacteria: Rational rules for permeation through general porins
Orbit 16 Publication in ACS Infectious Diseases (2018) Authors: Acosta-Gutierrez S., Ferrara L., Pathania M., Masi M., Wang J., Bodrenko I., Zahn M., Winterhalter M., Stavenger R.A., Pages J.-M., Naismith J.H., van den Berg B., Page M., Ceccarelli M.

Small, hydrophilic molecules, including most important antibiotics in clinical use, cross the Gram-negative outer membrane through the water-filled channels provided by porins. We have determined the X-ray crystal structures of the principal general porins from three species of Enterobacteriaceae, namely Enterobacter aerogenes, Enterobacter cloacae and Klebsiella pneumoniae and determined their antibiotic permeabilities as well as those of the orthologues from Escherichia coli. Starting from the structure of the porins and molecules we propose a physical mechanism underlying transport and condense it in a computationally efficient scoring function. The scoring function shows good agreement with in-vitro penetration data and will enable the screening of virtual databases to identify molecules with optimal permeability through porins and help to guide the optimization of antibiotics with poor permeation.

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2018 – High contrast imaging and flexible photomanipulation for quantitative in vivo multiphoton imaging with polygon scanning microscope
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in the Journal of Biophotonics (2018) Authors: Li Y., Montague S.J., Brüstle A., He X., Gillespie C., Gaus K., Gardiner E.E., Lee W.M.

In this study, we introduce two key improvements that overcome limitations of existing polygon scanning microscopes while maintaining high spatial and temporal imaging resolution over large field of view (FOV). First, we proposed a simple and straightforward means to control the scanning angle of the polygon mirror to carry out photomanipulation without resorting to high speed optical modulators. Second, we devised a flexible data sampling method directly leading to higher image contrast by over 2-fold and digital images with 100 megapixels (10 240 × 10 240) per frame at 0.25 Hz. This generates sub-diffraction limited pixels (60 nm per pixels over the FOV of 512 μm) which increases the degrees of freedom to extract signals computationally. The unique combined optical and digital control recorded fine fluorescence recovery after localized photobleaching (r ~10 μm) within fluorescent giant unilamellar vesicles and micro-vascular dynamics after laser-induced injury during thrombus formation in vivo. These new improvements expand the quantitative biological-imaging capacity of any polygon scanning microscope system.

Poster PDF
2018 – High throughput automatic patch clamp: Applications for Safety Pharmacology
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384) poster, JSPS Meeting 2018
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2018 – High-Throughput Functional Evaluation of KCNQ1 Decrypts Variants of Unknown Significance
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384i) article in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine (2018) Authors: Vanoye C.G., Desai R.R., Fabre K.L., Gallagher S.L., Potet F., DeKeyser J.M., Macaya D., Meiler J, Sanders C.R, and George Jr. A.L.

Background: The explosive growth in known human gene variation presents enormous challenges to current approaches for variant classification that have implications for diagnosis and treatment of many genetic diseases. For disorders caused by mutations in cardiac ion channels as in congenital arrhythmia syndromes, in vitro electrophysiological evidence has high value in discriminating pathogenic from benign variants, but these data are often lacking because assays are cost, time, and labor intensive. Methods: We implemented a strategy for performing high-throughput functional evaluations of ion channel variants that repurposed an automated electrophysiological recording platform developed previously for drug discovery. Results: We demonstrated the success of this approach by evaluating 78 variants in KCNQ1, a major gene involved in genetic disorders of cardiac arrhythmia susceptibility. We benchmarked our results with traditional electrophysiological approaches and observed a high level of concordance. This strategy also enabled studies of dominant-negative behavior of variants exhibiting severe loss-of-function. Overall, our results provided functional data useful for reclassifying >65% of the studied KCNQ1 variants. Conclusions: Our results illustrate an efficient and high-throughput paradigm linking genotype to function for a human cardiac ion channel that will enable data-driven classification of large numbers of variants and create new opportunities for precision medicine.

2018 – HTS Phase I study: an update on progress of the CiPA Ion Channel Work Stream using the SyncroPatch 384PE and Patchliner
Presenter: Tim Strassmaier, Nanion Technologies Inc. USA, Source: Webinar: "CiPA study: Bridging ion channel and myocyte data", September 12, 2018
Title: CiPA myocyte phase II validation study results: cross-site comparison using the CardioExcyte 96

The CiPA HTS Ion Channel Working Group finalized its phase I study in 2017. Amongst other external sites, Nanion Technologies in Germany, USA and Japan participated with the Patchliner and the SyncroPatch 384PE in this study. A comparative view of the ion channel targets and a cross-platform and cross-site comparison will be presented. Furthermore, results from the myocyte Work Stream using arrhythmogenic compounds will be compared and confirmed with patch clamp data derived from the HTS Work Stream.

Please note: The original webinar presentation contained 8 slides with data of an upcoming publication. Due to confidentiality reasons, the relevant slides were cut out of the movie.

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2018 – Hybrid vesicles from lipids and block copolymers: Phase behavior from the micro- to the nano-scale
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces (2018) Authors: Magnani C., Montis C., Mangiapia G., Mingotaud A.-F., Mingotaud C., Roux C., Joseph P., Berti D., Lonetti B.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the formation of copolymers-lipids hybrid self-assemblies, which allow combining and improving the main features of pure lipids-based and copolymer-based systems known for their potential applications in the biomedical field. In this contribution we investigate the self-assembly behavior of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) mixed with poly(butadiene-b-ethyleneoxide) (PBD-PEO), both at the micro- and at the nano-length scale. Epifluorescence microscopy and Laser Scanning Confocal microscopy are employed to characterize the morphology of micron-sized hybrid vesicles. The presence of fluid-like inhomogeneities in their membrane has been evidenced in all the investigated range of compositions. Furthermore, a microfluidic set-up characterizes the mechanical properties of the prepared assemblies by measuring their deformation upon flow: hybrids with low lipid content behave like pure polymer vesicles, whereas objects mainly composed of lipids show more variability from one vesicle to the other. Finally, the structure of the nanosized assemblies is characterized through a combination of Dynamic Light Scattering, Small Angle Neutron Scattering and Transmission Electron Microscopy. A vesicles-to-wormlike transition has been evidenced due to the intimate mixing of DPPC and PBD-PEO at the nanoscale. Combining experimental results at the micron and at the nanoscale improves the fundamental understanding on the phase behavior of copolymer-lipid hybrid assemblies, which is a necessary prerequisite to tailor efficient copolymer-lipid hybrid devices.

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2018 – Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-linked mutation in troponin T causes myofibrillar disarray and pro-arrhythmic action potential changes in human iPSC cardiomyocytes
CardioExcyte 96 Publication in Journal of Molecular and Cellular CardiologyAuthors: Wang L., Kim K., Parikh S., Cadar A.G., Bersell K.R., He H., Pinto J.R., Kryshtal D.O., Knollmann B.C.

Background Mutations in cardiac troponin T (TnT) are linked to increased risk of ventricular arrhythmia and sudden death despite causing little to no cardiac hypertrophy. Studies in mice suggest that the hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)-associated TnT-I79N mutation increases myofilament Ca sensitivity and is arrhythmogenic, but whether findings from mice translate to human cardiomyocyte electrophysiology is not known.ObjectivesTo study the effects of the TnT-I79N mutation in human cardiomyocytes. Methods Using CRISPR/Cas9, the TnT-I79N mutation was introduced into human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). We then used the matrigel mattress method to generate single rod-shaped cardiomyocytes (CMs) and studied contractility, Ca handling and electrophysiology. Results Compared to isogenic control hiPSC-CMs, TnT-I79N hiPSC-CMs exhibited sarcomere disorganization, increased systolic function and impaired relaxation. The Ca-dependence of contractility was leftward shifted in mutation containing cardiomyocytes, demonstrating increased myofilament Ca sensitivity. In voltage-clamped hiPSC-CMs, TnT-I79N reduced intracellular Ca transients by enhancing cytosolic Ca buffering. These changes in Ca handling resulted in beat-to-beat instability and triangulation of the cardiac action potential, which are predictors of arrhythmia risk. The myofilament Ca sensitizer EMD57033 produced similar action potential triangulation in control hiPSC-CMs. Conclusions The TnT-I79N hiPSC-CM model not only reproduces key cellular features of TnT-linked HCM such as myofilament disarray, hypercontractility and diastolic dysfunction, but also suggests that this TnT mutation causes pro-arrhythmic changes of the human ventricular action potential.

Tutorial video
2018 – Igor Tutorial for Patchliner Data Analysis
Dr. Nadine Becker, Product Manager Patchliner, Nanion Technologies GmbH, Germany

This Igor video tutorial for Patchliner data analysis demonstrates how concentration-response curves are quickly displayed and analyzed. We show how data are loaded and displayed, and the normalized data are fitted and averaged to obtain IC50 values. Please note that more details and features are described in our QuickStart Guide for Igor.

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2018 – In vitro pharmacological characterization of the bispyridinium non-oxime compound MB327 and its 2- and 3-regioisomers
  SURFE2R 96SE Publication in Toxicology Letters (2018) Authors: Niessen K.V., Seeger T. Rappenglück S., Wein T., Höfner G., Wanner K.T., Thiermanna H., Worek F.

The primary toxic mechanism of organophosphorus compounds, i.e. nerve agents or pesticides, is based on the irreversible inhibition of acetylcholinesterase. In consequence of the impaired hydrolysis, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine accumulates in cholinergic synapses and disturbs functional activity of nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors by overstimulation and subsequent desensitization. The resulting cholinergic syndrome will become acute life-threatening, if not treated adequately. The current standard treatment, consisting of administration of a competitive mAChR antagonist (e.g. atropine) and an oxime (e.g. obidoxime, pralidoxime), is not sufficient in the case of soman or tabun intoxications. Consequently, alternative therapeutic options are necessary. An innovative approach comprises the use of compounds selectively targeting nAChRs, especially positive allosteric modulators, which increase the population of the conducting receptor state. MB327 (1,1′-(propane-1,3-diyl)bis(4-tert-butylpyridinium) di(iodide)) is able to restore soman-blocked muscle-force in preparations of various species including human and was recently identified as “resensitizer”. In contrast to the well-studied MB327, the pharmacological efficacy of the 2- and 3-tert-butylpyridinium propane regioisomers is unknown. As a first step, MB327 and its 3-regioisomer (PTM0001) and 2-regioisomer (PTM0002) were pharmacologically characterized using [3H]epibatidine binding assays, functional studies by solid supported membranes based electrophysiology, and in vitro muscle-force investigations of soman-poisoned rat hemidiaphragm preparations by indirect field stimulation technique. The results obtained from targets of different complexity (receptor, muscle tissue) showed that the pharmacological profiles of the 2- and 3-regioisomers were relatively similar to those of MB327. Furthermore, high concentrations showed inhibitory effects, which might critically influence the application as an antidote. Thus, more effective drugs have to be developed. Nevertheless, the combination of the methods presented is an effective tool for clarifying structure-activity relationships.

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2018 – Inhibition of pannexin-1 channel activity by adiponectin in podocytes: Role of acid ceramidase activation
Port-a-Patch Publication in BBA - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids (2018) Authors: Li G., Zhang Q., Hong J., Ritter J.K., Li P.-L.

The pannexin-1 (Panx1) channel has been reported to mediate the release of ATP that is involved in local tissue inflammation, obesity, and many chronic degenerative diseases. It remains unknown whether Panx1 is present in podocytes and whether this channel in podocytes mediates ATP release leading to glomerular inflammation or fibrosis. To answer these questions, we first characterized the expression of Panx channels in podocytes. Among the three known pannexins, Panx1 was the most enriched in podocytes, either cultured or native in mouse glomeruli. Using a Port-a-Patch planar patch-clamp system, we recorded a large voltage-gated outward current through podocyte membrane under the Cs+in/Na+out gradient. Substitution of gluconate or aspartate for chloride in the bath solution blocked voltage-gated outward currents and shifted the reversal potential of Panx1 currents to the right, indicating the anion permeability of this channel. Pharmacologically, the recorded voltage-gated outward currents were substantially attenuated by specific Panx1 channel inhibitors. Given the anti-inflammatory and intracellular ATP restorative effects of adiponectin, we tested whether this adipokine inhibits Panx1 channel activity to block ATP release. Adiponectin blocked Panx1 channel activity in podocytes. Mechanistically, inhibition of acid ceramidase (AC) remarkably enhanced Panx1 channel activity under control conditions and prevented the inhibition of Panx1 channel by adiponectin. Correspondingly, intracellular addition of AC products, sphingosine or sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), blocked Panx1 channel activity, while elevation of intracellular ceramide had no effect on Panx1 channel activity. These results suggest that adiponectin inhibits Panx1 channel activity in podocytes through activation of AC and associated elevation of intracellular S1P.

Presentation PDF
2018 – Innovations for cell monitoring in safety and toxicity assays
Presenter: Dr. Elena Dragicevic, Senior Scientist / Sales Manager, Nanion Technologies; Source: SOT, Ncardia & Nanion hosted session, March 12. 2018
Presentation PDF
2018 – Innovations for cell monitoring in safety and toxicity assays
Presenter: Dr. Elena Dragicevic, Senior Scientist / Sales Manager, Nanion Technologies Source:
SOT, Ncardia & Nanion hosted session, March 12. 2018
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2018 – Interaction of Gravity with Cellular Compounds
Port-a-Patch book chapter in Gravitational Biology II (2018) Authors: Hanke W., Kohn F.P.M., Neef M. Hampp R. 

During evolution, the majority of organisms have developed specific sensors for gravity, the only constant environmental cue on earth. Nevertheless, a variety of gravity effects on molecular, cellular, and physiological level has also been reported in single-cell organisms and cell types of plants and animals which do not seem to possess specific sensors. We have found that the cellular membrane, common to all cells, itself is interacting with gravity by changing its fluidity. Thus, it delivers a basic mechanism for gravity perception for all existing cells and living systems. In the following, we discuss the physical principles and the consequences of our findings for membrane-bound processes, for life on earth, and for manned space travel. In addition, a first model is proposed, how a sensor system for gravity based on membrane thermodynamics could be structured.

Poster PDF
2018 – Investigating pain pathways by inhibition of voltage-gated sodium channels
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384) and Patchliner poster, FENS Meeting 2018
Poster PDF
2018 – Investigations into idiosyncratic drug-induced hepatotoxicity and chronic proliferation of cancer cells using a label-free method
Poster PDF
2018 – Label-free analysis of Na+/Ca2+– exchanger (NCX) isolated from iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes
SURFE2R N1 and SURFE2R 96SE poster, Europhysiology Meeting 2018
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2018 – Lipid-mediated regulation of pore-forming activity of syringomycin E by thyroid hormones and xanthene dyes
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Biomembranes (2018) Authors: Efimova S.S., Zakharova A.A., Ismagilov A.A., Schagina L.V., Malev V.V., Bashkirov P.V., Ostroumova O.S.

The effects of dipole modifiers, thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine) and xanthene dyes (Rose Bengal, phloxineB, erythrosin, eosinY and fluorescein) on the pore-forming activity of the lipopeptide syringomycin E (SRE) produced by Pseudomonas syringae were studied in a model bilayer. Thyroxine does not noticeably influence the steady-state number of open SRE channels (Nop), whereas triiodothyronine decreases it 10-fold at − 50 mV. Rose Bengal, phloxine B and erythrosin significantly increase Nop by 350, 100 and 70 times, respectively. Eosin Y and fluorescein do not practically affect the pore-forming activity of SRE. Recently, we showed that hormones decrease the dipole potential of lipid bilayers by approximately 60 mV at 50 μM, while Rose Bengal, phloxine B and erythrosin at 2.5 μM reduce the membrane dipole potential by 120, 80 and 50 mV, respectively. In the present study using differential scanning microcalorimetry, confocal fluorescence microscopy, the calcein release technique and measurements of membrane curvature elasticity, we show that triiodothyronine strongly affects the fluidity of model membranes: its addition leads to a significant decrease in the temperature and cooperativity of the main phase transition of DPPC, calcein leakage from DOPC vesicles, fluidization of solid domains in DOPC/DPPC liposomes, and promotion of lipid curvature stress. Thyroxine exerts a weaker effect. Xanthene dyes do not influence the phase transition of DPPC. Despite the decrease in the dipole potential, thyroid hormones modulate SRE channels predominantly via the elastic properties of the membrane, whereas the xanthene dyes Rose Bengal, phloxine B and erythrosine affect SRE channels via bilayer electrostatics.

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2018 – Mechanism-specific assay design facilitates the discovery of NaV1.7-selective inhibitors
SyncroPatch 768PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384/768i) Publication in PNAS Authors: Chernov-Rogan T., Li T., Lu G., Verschoof H., Khakh K., Jones S.W., Beresini M.H., Liu C., Ortwine D.F., McKerrall S.J., Hackos D.H., Sutherlin D., Cohen C.J., and Chen J.

Many ion channels, including NaV1.7, CaV1.3, and KV1.3, are linked to human pathologies and are important therapeutic targets. To develop efficacious and safe drugs, subtype-selective modulation is essential, but has been extremely difficult to achieve. We postulate that this challenge is caused by the poor assay design, and investigate the NaV1.7 membrane potential assay, one of the most extensively employed screening assays in modern drug discovery. The assay uses veratridine to activate channels, and compounds are identified based on the inhibition of veratridine-evoked activities. We show that this assay is biased toward nonselective pore blockers and fails to detect the most potent, selective voltage-sensing domain 4 (VSD4) blockers, including PF-05089771 (PF-771) and GX-936. By eliminating a key binding site for pore blockers and replacing veratridine with a VSD-4 binding activator, we directed the assay toward non–pore-blocking mechanisms and discovered NaV1.7-selective chemical scaffolds. Hence, we address a major hurdle in NaV1.7 drug discovery, and this mechanistic approach to assay design is applicable to CaV3.1, KV1.3, and many other ion channels to facilitate drug discovery.

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2018 – Method for immobilization of living and synthetic cells for high-resolution imaging and single-particle tracking
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Scientific Reports (2018) Authors: Syga Ł., Spakman D., Punter C.M., Poolman B.

Super-resolution imaging and single-particle tracking require cells to be immobile as any movement reduces the resolution of the measurements. Here, we present a method based on APTES-glutaraldehyde coating of glass surfaces to immobilize cells without compromising their growth. Our method of immobilization is compatible with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Escherichia coli, and synthetic cells (here, giant-unilamellar vesicles). The method introduces minimal background fluorescence and is suitable for imaging of single particles at high resolution. With S. cerevisiae we benchmarked the method against the commonly used concaNaValin A approach. We show by total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy that modifying surfaces with ConA introduces artifacts close to the glass surface, which are not present when immobilizing with the APTES-glutaraldehyde method. We demonstrate validity of the method by measuring the diffusion of membrane proteins in yeast with single-particle tracking and of lipids in giant-unilamellar vesicles with fluorescence recovery after photobleaching. Importantly, the physical properties and shape of the fragile GUVs are not affected upon binding to APTES-glutaraldehyde coated glass. The APTES-glutaraldehyde is a generic method of immobilization that should work with any cell or synthetic system that has primary amines on the surface.

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2018 – Methods for Single-Molecule Sensing and Detection Using Bacteriophage Phi29 DNA Packaging Motor
Vesicle Prep Pro book chapter in Molecular Motors (2018) Authors: Haque F, Zhang H, Wang S, Chang C-L, Savran C, Guo P.

Bacteriophage phi29 DNA packaging motor consists of a dodecameric portal channel protein complex termed connector that allows transportation of genomic dsDNA and a hexameric packaging RNA (pRNA) ring to gear the motor. The elegant design of the portal protein has facilitated its applications for real-time single-molecule detection of biopolymers and chemicals with high sensitivity and selectivity. The robust self-assembly property of the pRNA has enabled biophysical studies of the motor complex to determine the stoichiometry and structure/folding of the pRNA at single-molecule level. This chapter focuses on biophysical and analytical methods for studying the phi29 motor components at the single-molecule level, such as single channel conductance assays of membrane-embedded connectors; single molecule photobleaching (SMPB) assay for determining the stoichiometry of phi29 motor components; fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) assay for determining the structure and folding of pRNA; atomic force microscopy (AFM) for imaging pRNA nanoparticles of various size, shape, and stoichiometry; and bright-field microscopy with magnetomechanical system for direct visualization of viral DNA packaging process. The phi29 system with explicit engineering capability has incredible potentials for diverse applications in nanotechnology and nanomedicine including, but not limited to, DNA sequencing, drug delivery to diseased cells, environmental surveillance, and early disease diagnosis.

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2018 – Molecular mechanism of the Orai channel activation
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Pre-publicatin in bioRxiv (2018)   Authors: Liu, X., Wu, G., Yu, Y., Chen, X., Ji, R., Lu, J., Li, X., Zhang, X., Yang, X., Shen, Y.

The Orai channel is characterized by voltage independence, low conductance and high Ca2+ selectivity and plays an important role in Ca2+ influx through the plasma membrane. How the channel is activated and promotes Ca2+ permeation are not well understood. Here, we report the crystal structure and cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of a Drosophila melanogaster Orai mutant (P288L) channel that is constitutively active according to electrophysiology. The open state of the Orai channel showed a hexameric assembly in which six TM1 helices in the center form the ion-conducting pore, and six TM4 helices in the periphery form extended long helices. Orai channel activation requires conformational transduction from TM4 to TM1 and eventually causes the basic section of TM1 to twist outward. The wider pore on the cytosolic side aggregates anions to increase the potential gradient across the membrane and thus facilitate Ca2+ permeation. The open-state structure of the Orai channel offers insights into channel assembly, channel activation and Ca2+ permeation.

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2018 – Multifocal atrial and ventricular premature contractions with an increased risk of dilated cardiomyopathy caused by a NaV1.5 gain-of-function mutation (G213D)
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) -related Publication in International Journal of Cardiology (2018) Authors: Calloe K., Broendberg A.K., Christensen A.H., Pedersen L.N., Olesen M.S., de los Angeles Tejada M., Friis S., Thomsen M.B., Bundgaard H., Jensen H.K.

Background: SCN5A mutations can lead to different cardiac diseases. Recently, SCN5A mutations have been linked to the clinical entity multifocal ectopic Purkinje-related premature contractions (MEPPC) characterized by ventricular ectopy and dilated cardiomyopathy. Methods & Results: A family with a uniform MEPPC-like phenotype, associated with complex atrial and ventricular arrhythmias and dilated cardiomyopathy caused by a high frequency of ventricular ectopy was clinically assessed. Screening of the SCN5A gene revealed a missense mutation in the linker between segments 3 and 4 in domain 1 of the NaV1.5 protein, resulting in a glycine to aspartate substitution at position 213 (G213D). The phenotype co-segregated with the missense mutation. Electrophysiological studies of wild type (WT) hNaV1.5 and hNaV1.5_G213D expressed in CHO-K cells showed that the voltage of half-maximal activation (V½) was significantly more negative for hNaV1.5_G213D compared to WT (V½ = −38.7 ± 0.5 mV for WT and V½ = −42.4 ± 0.5 mV for G213D; P  0.001). This suggests activation of NaV1.5_G231D at more negative potentials. The V½ of steady-state inactivation was significantly shifted towards more positive values for NaV1.5_G213D (V½ = −86.7 ± 0.2 mV for WT and −82.2 ± 0.3 mV for G213D; P  0.001), also contributing to a gain-of-function phenotype. Flecainide and amiodarone markedly reduced premature atrial and ventricular contractions in four patients. Conclusion: The NaV1.5_G213D mutation is associated with a gain-of-function phenotype, multifocal atrial and ventricular ectopy and dilated cardiomyopathy. Since patients with a MEPPC-like phenotype may specifically benefit from Class-1 antiarrhythmic drugs or amiodarone, clinical identification of this disease entity is important. Note: Electrophysiological analysis of heteromers (NaV1.5 and NaV1.5_G213D mutation) were executed on the SyncroPatch 384PE. Data are not shown in the publication.

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2018 – NaV Channels: Assaying Biosynthesis, Trafficking, Function
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) article in The Surfaceome (2018) Authors: Tomaselli G.F., Farinelli F.

Integral to the cell surface is channels, pumps, and exchanger proteins that facilitate the movement of ions across the membrane. Ion channels facilitate the passive movement of ions down an electrochemical gradient. Ion pumps actively use energy to actively translocate ions, often against concentration or voltage gradients, while ion exchangers utilize energy to couple the transport of different ion species such that one ion moves down its gradient and the released free energy is used to drive the movement of a different ion against its electrochemical gradient. Some ion pumps and exchangers may be electrogenic, i.e., the ion transport they support is not electrically neutral and generates a current. Functions of these pore-forming membrane proteins include the establishment of membrane potentials, gating of ions flows across the cell membrane to elicit action potentials and other electrical signals, as well as the regulation of cell volumes. The major forms of ion channels include voltage-, ligand-, and signal-gated channels. In this review, we describe mammalian voltage dependent Na (NaV) channels.

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2018 – Non-blocking modulation contributes to sodium channel inhibition by a covalently attached photoreactive riluzole analog
Port-a-Patch Publication in Nature Scientific Reports (2018) Authors: Lukacs P., Mátyás F.C., Valánszki L., Casanova E., Biri-Kovács B., Nyitray L., Málnási-Csizmadia A., Mike A.

Sodium channel inhibitor drugs decrease pathological hyperactivity in various diseases including pain syndromes, myotonia, arrhythmias, nerve injuries and epilepsies. Inhibiting pathological but not physiological activity, however, is a major challenge in drug development. Sodium channel inhibitors exert their efects by a dual action: they obstruct ion fow (“block”), and they alter the energetics of channel opening and closing (“modulation”). Ideal drugs would be modulators without blocking effect, because modulation is inherently activity-dependent, therefore selective for pathological hyperactivity. Can block and modulation be separated? It has been difficult to tell, because the effect of modulation is obscured by conformation-dependent association/dissociation of the drug. To eliminate dynamic association/dissociation, we used a photoreactive riluzole analog which could be covalently bound to the channel; and found, unexpectedly, that drug-bound channels could still conduct ions, although with modulated gating. The finding that non-blocking modulation is possible, may open a novel avenue for drug development because non-blocking modulators could be more specifc in treating hyperactivity-linked diseases.

Presentation PDF
2018 – Optogenetic control of transiently transfected hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes for the assessment of drug related cardiotoxicity
Presenter: Greg Luerman, PhD, Technical Director North America, Ncardia Source: SOT, Ncardia & Nanion hosted session, March 12. 2018
Poster PDF
2018 – Optogenetic technologies enable high throughput ion channel drug discovery and toxicity screening
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384) and CardioExcyte 96 poster, Biophysics Annual Meeting 2018
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2018 – Parallel evolution of frog antimicrobial peptides produces identical conformations but subtly distinct membrane and antibacterial activities
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro pre-Publication in bioRxiv (2018)   Authors: Manzo G., Ferguson P.M., Hind C., Clifford M., Gustilo V.B., Ali H., Bansal S.S., Bui T.T., Drake A.F., Atkinson R.A., Sutton M.J., Lorenz C.D., Phoenix D.A., Mason A.J.

Frogs such as Rana temporaria and Litoria aurea secrete numerous closely related antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as an effective chemical dermal defence. Despite the high similarity in physical properties and preference for adopting secondary amphipathic, α-helix conformations in membrane mimicking milieu, their spectrum of activity and potency often varies considerably. Damage or penetration of the bacterial plasma membrane is considered essential for AMP activity and hence distinguishing apparently similar AMPs according to their behaviour in, and effects on, model membranes will inform understanding of species specific effective antimicrobial mechanisms. Here we use a combination of molecular dynamics simulations, circular dichroism and patch-clamp to investigate the basis for differing anti-bacterial activities in representative AMPs from each species; temporin L and aurein 2.5. Despite adopting near identical, α-helix conformations in the steady-state in a variety of membrane models, these two AMPs can be distinguished both in vitro and in silico based on their dynamic interactions with model membranes; the greater conformational flexibility and the higher amplitude channel conductance induced offers a rationale for the greater potency and broader spectrum of activity of temporin L over aurein 2.5. Specific contributions from individual residues are identified that define the mechanisms of action of each AMP. Our findings suggest AMPs in frogs are examples of parallel evolution whose utility is based on apparently similar but subtly distinct mechanisms of action.

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2018 – Phase partitioning, solvent-switchable BODIPY probes for high contrast cellular imaging and FCS
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in New Journal of Chemistry (2018) Authors: O’Connor D. Byrne A., Dolana C., Keyes T.E.

Lipophilic BODIPY fluorphores, in which the BODIPY core bears pendant dipyrido[3,2-a:2′,3′-c]phenazine (Dppz) or naphthyridyl and cholesterol substituents were designed and prepared as lipid probes for both liposomes and live cell imaging. The probes are non-emissive in water but permeate both GUV and live cell membranes and provide high contrast fluorescence and lifetime imaging of membranous structures and lipid droplets in cells and are suitable for FCS measurements on lipid membranes.

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2018 – Powering the ABC multidrug exporter LmrA: How nucleotides embrace the ion-motive force
Port-a-Patch Publication in Science Advances (2018) Authors: Agboh K., Lau C.H.F., Khoo Y.S.K., Singh H., Raturi S., Nair A.V., Howard J., Chiapello M., Feret R., Deery M.J., Murakami S., van Veen H.W.

LmrA is a bacterial ATP-binding cassette (ABC) multidrug exporter that uses metabolic energy to transport ions, cytotoxic drugs, and lipids. Voltage clamping in a Port-a-Patch was used to monitor electrical currents associated with the transport of monovalent cationic HEPES+ by single-LmrA transporters and ensembles of transporters. In these experiments, one proton and one chloride ion are effluxed together with each HEPES+ ion out of the inner compartment, whereas two sodium ions are transported into this compartment. Consequently, the sodium-motive force (interior negative and low) can drive this electrogenic ion exchange mechanism in cells under physiological conditions. The same mechanism is also relevant for the efflux of monovalent cationic ethidium, a typical multidrug transporter substrate. Studies in the presence of Mg-ATP (adenosine 5′-triphosphate) show that ion-coupled HEPES+ transport is associated with ATP-bound LmrA, whereas ion-coupled ethidium transport requires ATP binding and hydrolysis. HEPES+ is highly soluble in a water-based environment, whereas ethidium has a strong preference for residence in the water-repelling plasma membrane. We conclude that the mechanism of the ABC transporter LmrA is fundamentally related to that of an ion antiporter that uses extra steps (ATP binding and hydrolysis) to retrieve and transport membrane-soluble substrates from the phospholipid bilayer.

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2018 – Probing Interactions between AuNPs/AgNPs and Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUVs) Using Hyperspectral Dark-field Microscopy
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2018) Authors: Bhat A., Huan K., Cooks T., Boukari H., Lu Q.

Noble metallic nanoparticles (NPs) such as gold and silver nanoparticles (AuNPs and AgNPs) have been shown to exhibit anti-tumor effect in anti-angiogenesis, photothermal and radio therapeutics. On the other hand, cell membranes are critical locales for specific targeting of cancerous cells. Therefore, NP-membrane interactions need be studied at molecular level to help better understand the underlying physicochemical mechanisms for future applications in cancer nanotechnology. Herein, we report our study on the interactions between citrate stabilized colloidal AuNPs/AgNPs (10 nm in size) and giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) using hyperspectral dark-field microscopy. GUVs are large model vesicle systems well established for the study of membrane dynamics. GUVs used in this study were prepared with dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine (DMPC) and doped with cholesterol at various molar concentrations. Both imaging and spectral results support that AuNPs and AgNPs interact very differently with GUVs, i.e., AuNPs tend to integrate in between the lipid bilayer and form a uniform golden-brown crust on vesicles, whereas AgNPs are bejeweled on the vesicle surface as isolated particles or clusters with much varied configurations. The more disruptive capability of AuNPs is hypothesized to be responsible for the formation of golden brown crusts in AuNP-GUV interaction. GUVs of 20 mol% CHOL:DMPC were found to be a most economical concentration for GUVs to achieve the best integrity and the least permeability, consistent with the finding from other phase studies of lipid mixture that the liquid-ordered domains have the largest area fraction of the entire membrane at around 20 mol% of cholesterol.

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2018 – Quantifying Permeation of Small Charged Molecules across Channels: Electrophysiology in Small Volumes
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in ACS Omega (2018)    Authors: Wang J., Benier L., Winterhalter M.

A major bottleneck in the development of small molecule antibiotics is to achieve good permeability across the outer membrane in Gram-negative bacteria. Optimization with respect to permeability surprisingly lacks appropriate methods. Recently we proposed to use the diffusion potential for charged molecules created by their difference in electrophoretic mobility while crossing the outer membrane channel under a concentration gradient. The latter provides semi-quantitative values but the current available setups require large volumes and thus exclude several classes of molecules. Here we propose a simple approach capturing proteoliposomes at aperture of glass surface (planar aperture or conical glass capillary) decreasing the necessary volume below 50 µL. We measured the transport of two charged molecules sulbactam and ceftazidime across the two major porins in E.coli. Both molecules permeate through these porins were observed with sulbactam owes higher permeability.

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2018 – Reconstitution and Electrophysiological Characterization of Ion Channels in Lipid Bilayers
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Current Protocols in Pharmacology (2018)  Authors: Klaerke D.A., de los Angeles Tejada M., Grøsfjeld Christensen V., Lassen M., Amstrup Pedersen P., Calloe K.

Detergent‐solubilized purified ion channels can be reconstituted into lipid bilayers for electrophysiological analysis. Traditionally, ion channels were inserted into vesicles and subsequently fused with planar “black lipid membranes” formed from lipids dissolved in a hydrophobic solvent such as decane. Provided in this article is a step‐by‐step guide to reconstitute purified ion channel proteins into giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs). This procedure results in the formation of proteoliposomes that can be used for planar bilayer formation and electrophysiological characterization of single‐channel currents. By using preformed GUVs it is possible to omit the membrane solvent. Compared to traditional preparations, the lipid bilayers formed from GUVs provide an environment that more closely resembles the native cell membrane. Also described is an alternate protocol that entails the production of planar lipid bilayers from GUVs onto which proteins in detergent are added.

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2018 – Regulation of the Pore-Forming Activity of Cecropin A by Local Anesthetics
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Cell and Tissue Biology (2018) Authors: Efimova S.S., Medvedev R.Ya., Chulkov E.G., Schagina L.V., Ostroumova O.S.

The influence of local anesthetics on the regulation of the channel-forming activity of the antimicrobial peptide cecropin A has been investigated. The mean current flowing through the single cecropin channels isc was determined, and steady-state transmembrane current induced by cecropin AI∞ was measured. It has been shown that the introduction of 1 mM of bupivacaine, benzocaine or 0.3 mM of tetracaine into the membrane bathing solution results in a decrease in isc and I∞. At the same time, the addition of 1 mM lidocaine or procaine to the membrane-bathing solutions does not lead to a significant change in isc and I∞. Comparison of the absolute values and the sign of the change in the boundary potential of negatively charged membranes and relative changes of isc and I∞ after addition of local anesthetics shows that neither parameter correlates with the membrane boundary potential. The results of studying the effect of tested local anesthetics on the phase transition of membrane lipids allow us to conclude that the observed changes of isc and I∞ are due to modulation of the elastic properties of the membrane.

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2018 – Role of the Fourth Transmembrane Segment in TRAAK Channel Mechanosensitivity
Port-a-Patch Suction Control Pro pre-Publication in bioRxiv (2018) Authors: Zhang M., Yao F., Pan C., Yan Z.

Mechanosensitive ion channels such as Piezo, TRAAK, TRPs and OSCA are important transmembrane proteins that are involved in many physiological processes such as touch, hearing and blood pressure regulation. Unlike ligand-gated channels or voltage-gated ion channels, which have a canonical ligand-binding domain or voltage-sensing domain, the mechanosensitive domain and related gating mechanism remain elusive. TRAAK channels are mechanosensitive channels that convert a physical mechanical force into a flow of potassium ions. The structures of TRAAK channels have been solved, however, the functional roles of the structural domains associated with channel mechanosensitivity remains unclear. Here, we generated a series of chimeric mutations between TRAAK and a non-mechanosensitive silent TWIK-1 K2P channel. We found that the selectivity filter region functions as the major gate of outward rectification and found that lower part of fourth transmembrane domain (M4) is necessary for TRAAK channel mechanosensitivity. We further demonstrated that upper part of M4 can modulate the mechanosensitivity of TRAAK channel. Furthermore, we found that hydrophilic substitutions of W262 and F121 facing each other, and hydrophobic substitutions of Q258 and G124, which are above and below W262 and F121, respectively, greatly increase mechanosensitivity, which suggests that dynamic interactions in the upper part of M4 and PH1 domain are involved in TRAAK channel mechanosensitivity. Interestingly, these gain-of-function mutations are sensitive to cell-poking stimuli, indicating that cell-poking stimuli generate a low membrane mechanical force that opens TRAAK channels. Our results thus showed that fourth transmembrane domain of TRAAK is critical for the gating of TRAAK by mechanical force and suggested that multiple dynamic interactions in the upper part of M4 and PH1 domain are involved in this process.

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2018 – Romo1 is a mitochondrial nonselective cation channel with viroporin-like characteristics
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Journal of Cell Biology (2018)   Authors: Lee G.Y., You D.G., Lee H.R., Hwang S.W., Lee C.J., Do Yoo Y.

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) modulator 1 (Romo1) is a nuclear-encoded mitochondrial inner membrane protein known to regulate mitochondrial ROS production and to act as an essential redox sensor in mitochondrial dynamics. Although its physiological roles have been studied for a decade, the biophysical mechanisms that explain these activities of Romo1 are unclear. In this study, we report that Romo1 is a unique mitochondrial ion channel that differs from currently identified eukaryotic ion channels. Romo1 is a highly conserved protein with structural features of class II viroporins, which are virus-encoded nonselective cation channels. Indeed, Romo1 forms a nonselective cation channel with its amphipathic helical transmembrane domain necessary for pore-forming activity. Notably, channel activity was specifically inhibited by Fe2+ ions, an essential transition metal ion in ROS metabolism. Using structural bioinformatics, we designed an experimental data-guided structural model of Romo1 with a rational hexameric structure. We propose that Romo1 establishes a new category of viroporin-like nonselective cation channel in eukaryotes.

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2018 – Safety Pharmacology Methods and Models in an Evolving Regulatory Environment
CardioExcyte 96 CiPA Editorial in Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods (2018) Authors: Pugsley M.K., Harter M.L., de Korte T., Connaughton C., Authier S., Curtis M.J.

This editorial prefaces the annual themed issue on safety pharmacology (SP) methods published in the Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods (JPTM). We highlight here the content derived from the recent 2016 Safety Pharmacology Society (SPS), Canadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CSPT), and Japanese Safety Pharmacology Society (JSPS) joint meeting held in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. This issue of JPTM continues the tradition of providing a publication summary of articles primarily presented at the joint meeting with direct bearing on the discipline of SP. As the regulatory landscape is expected to evolve with revision announced for the existing guidance document on non-clinical proarrhythmia risk assessment (ICHS7B) there is also imminent inception of the Comprehensive in vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative. Thus, the field of SP is dynamically progressing with characterization and implementation of numerous alternative non-clinical safety models. Novel method development and refinement in all areas of the discipline are reflected in the content.

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2018 – Selective NaV1.1 activation rescues Dravet syndrome mice from seizures and premature death
Patchliner Publication in PNAS (2018) Authors: Richards K.L., Milligan C.J., Richardson R.J., Jancovski N., Grunnet M., Jacobson L.H., Undheim E.A.B., Mobli M., Chow C.Y., Herzig V., Csoti A., Panyi G., Reid A.A., King G.F., Petrou S.

Significance: Spider venom is a rich source of peptides, many targeting ion channels. We assessed a venom peptide, Hm1a, as a potential targeted therapy for Dravet syndrome, the genetic epilepsy linked to a mutation in the gene encoding the sodium channel alpha subunit NaV1.1. Cell-based assays showed Hm1a was selective for hNaV1.1 over other sodium and potassium channels. Utilizing a mouse model of Dravet syndrome, Hm1a restored inhibitory neuron function and significantly reduced seizures and mortality in heterozygote mice. Evidence from the structure of Hm1a and modeling suggest Hm1a interacts with NaV1.1 inactivation domains, providing a structural correlate of the functional mechanisms. This proof-of-concept study provides a promising strategy for future drug development in genetic epilepsy and other neurogenetic disorders. Abstract: Dravet syndrome is a catastrophic, pharmacoresistant epileptic encephalopathy. Disease onset occurs in the first year of life, followed by developmental delay with cognitive and behavioral dysfunction and substantially elevated risk of premature death. The majority of affected individuals harbor a loss-of-function mutation in one allele of SCN1A, which encodes the voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.1. Brain NaV1.1 is primarily localized to fast-spiking inhibitory interneurons; thus the mechanism of epileptogenesis in Dravet syndrome is hypothesized to be reduced inhibitory neurotransmission leading to brain hyperexcitability. We show that selective activation of NaV1.1 by venom peptide Hm1a restores the function of inhibitory interneurons from Dravet syndrome mice without affecting the firing of excitatory neurons. Intracerebroventricular infusion of Hm1a rescues Dravet syndrome mice from seizures and premature death. This precision medicine approach, which specifically targets the molecular deficit in Dravet syndrome, presents an opportunity for treatment of this intractable epilepsy.

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2018 – Simplified footprint-free Cas9/CRISPR editing of cardiac-associated genes in human pluripotent stem cells
CardioExcyte 96 Publication in Stem Cells and Development Authors: Kondrashov A., Hoang M.D., Smith J., Bhagwan J., Duncan G., Mosqueira D., Munoz M., Vo N.T.N., Denning C.

Modelling disease with hPSCs is hindered because the impact on cell phenotype from genetic variability between individuals can be greater than from the pathogenic mutation. While ‘footprint-free’ Cas9/CRISPR editing solves this issue, existing approaches are inefficient or lengthy. Here, a simplified PiggyBac strategy shortened hPSC editing by 2 weeks and required one round of clonal expansion and genotyping rather than two, with similar efficiencies to the longer conventional process. Success was shown across 4 cardiac-associated loci (ADRB2, GRK5, RYR2, ACTC1) by genomic cleavage and editing efficiencies of 8-93% and 8-67%, respectively, including mono- and/or bi-allelic events. Pluripotency was retained, as was differentiation into high purity cardiomyocytes (CMs; 88-99%). Using the GRK5 isogenic lines as an exemplar, chronic stimulation with the b-adrenoceptor agonist, isoprenaline, reduced beat rate in hPSC-CMs expressing GRK5-Q41 but not GRK5-L41; this was reversed by the b-blocker, propranolol. This simplified, footprint-free approach will be useful for mechanistic studies.

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2018 – Single channel recording of a mitochondrial calcium uniporter
Port-a-Patch and Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in BBRC (2018)   Authors: Wu G., Li S., Zong G., Liu, X., Fei S., Shen L., Guan X., Yanga X., Shen Y.

Mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) is the pore-forming subunit of the entire uniporter complex and plays an important role in mitochondrial calcium uptake. However, the single channel recording of MCU remains controversial. Here, we expressed and purified different MCU proteins and then reconstituted them into planar lipid bilayers for single channel recording. We showed that MCU alone from Pyronema omphalodes (pMCU) is active with prominent single channel Ca2+ currents. In sharp contrast, MCU alone from Homo sapiens (hMCU) is inactive. The essential MCU regulator (EMRE) activates hMCU, and therefore, the complex (hMCU-hEMRE) shows prominent single channel Ca2+ currents. These single channel currents are sensitive to the specific MCU inhibitor Ruthenium Red. Our results clearly demonstrate that active MCU can conduct large amounts of calcium into the mitochondria.

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2018 – Size-dependent interaction of a 3-arm star poly(ethylene glycol) with two biological nanopores
Orbit 16 Publication in The European Physical Journal E (2018) Authors: Talarimoghari M., Baaken G., Hanselmann R., Behrends J.C.

We use two pore-forming proteins, alpha-hemolysin and aerolysin, to compare the polymer size-dependence of ionic current block by two types of ethyleneglycol polymers: 1) linear and 2) 3-arm star poly(ethylene glycol), both applied as a polydisperse mixture of average mass 1kDa under high salt conditions. The results demonstrate that monomer size sensitivity, as known for linear PEGs, is conserved for the star polymers with only subtle differences in the dependence of the residual conductance on monomer number. To explain this absence of a dominant effect of polymer architecture, we propose that PEG adsorbs to the inner pore wall in a collapsed, salted-out state, likely due to the effect of hydrophobic residues in the pore wall on the availability of water for hydration.

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2018 – Structure of the mechanosensitive OSCA channels
Port-a-Patch Suction Control Pro Publication in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (2018) Authors: Zhang M., Wang D., Kang Y., Wu J.-X., Yao F., Pan C., Yan Z., Song C., Chen L.

Mechanosensitive ion channels convert mechanical stimuli into a flow of ions. These channels are widely distributed from bacteria to higher plants and humans, and are involved in many crucial physiological processes. Here we show that two members of the OSCA protein family in Arabidopsis thaliana, namely AtOSCA1.1 and AtOSCA3.1, belong to a new class of mechanosensitive ion channels. We solve the structure of the AtOSCA1.1 channel at 3.5-Å resolution and AtOSCA3.1 at 4.8-Å resolution by cryo-electron microscopy. OSCA channels are symmetric dimers that are mediated by cytosolic inter-subunit interactions. Strikingly, they have structural similarity to the mammalian TMEM16 family proteins. Our structural analysis accompanied with electrophysiological studies identifies the ion permeation pathway within each subunit and suggests a conformational change model for activation.

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2018 – Structures of monomeric and oligomeric forms of the Toxoplasma gondii perforin-like protein 1
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Science Advances (2018) Authors: Ni T., Williams S.I., Rezelj S., Anderluh G., Harlos K., Stansfeld P.J., Gilbert R.J.C.

Toxoplasma and Plasmodium are the parasitic agents of toxoplasmosis and malaria, respectively, and use perforin-like proteins (PLPs) to invade host organisms and complete their life cycles. The Toxoplasma gondii PLP1 (TgPLP1) is required for efficient exit from parasitophorous vacuoles in which proliferation occurs. We report structures of the membrane attack complex/perforin (MACPF) and Apicomplexan PLP C-terminal β-pleated sheet (APCβ) domains of TgPLP1. The MACPF domain forms hexameric assemblies, with ring and helix geometries, and the APCβ domain has a novel β-prism fold joined to the MACPF domain by a short linker. Molecular dynamics simulations suggest that the helical MACPF oligomer preserves a biologically important interface, whereas the APCβ domain binds preferentially through a hydrophobic loop to membrane phosphatidylethanolamine, enhanced by the additional presence of inositol phosphate lipids. This mode of membrane binding is supported by site-directed mutagenesis data from a liposome-based assay. Together, these structural and biophysical findings provide insights into the molecular mechanism of membrane targeting by TgPLP1.

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2018 – Targeting KCa1.1 channels with a scorpion venom peptide for the therapy of rat models of rheumatoid arthritis
Port-a-Patch Publication in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (2018) Authors: Tanner M.R., Pennington R.W., Chamberlain B.H., Huq R., Gehrmann E.J., Laragione, T., Gulko P.S., Beeton C.

Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) are a key cell-type involved in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) progression. We previously identified the KCa1.1 potassium channel (Maxi-K, BK, Slo 1, KCNMA1) as a regulator of FLS and that KCa1.1 inhibition reduces disease severity in RA animal models. However, systemic KCa1.1 block causes multiple side effects and in this study, we aimed to determine whether the KCa1.1 β1-3-specific venom peptide blocker iberiotoxin (IbTX) reduces disease severity in animal models of RA without inducing major side effects. We used immunohistochemistry to identify IbTX-sensitive KCa1.1 subunits in joints of rats with a model of RA. Patch clamp and functional assays were used to determine if IbTX can regulate FLS through targeting KCa1.1. We then tested the efficacy of IbTX in ameliorating disease in two rat models of RA. Finally, we determined if IbTX causes side-effects including incontinence or tremors in rats, compared to those treated with the small molecule KCa1.1 blocker paxilline. IbTX-sensitive subunits of KCa1.1 are expressed by FLS in joints of rats with experimental arthritis. IbTX inhibits KCa1.1 channels expressed by FLS from patients with RA and by FLS from rat models of RA and reduces FLS invasiveness. IbTX significantly reduces disease severity in two rat models of RA. Unlike paxilline, IbTX does not induce tremors or incontinence in rats. Overall, IbTX inhibits KCa1.1 channels on FLS and treats rat models of RA without inducing side effects associated with non-specific KCa1.1 blockade and could become the basis for the development of a new treatment for RA.

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2018 – Temperature-Induced Modulation of Voltage-Gated Ion Channels in Human Lung Cancer Cell Line A549 Using Automated Patch Clamp Technology
Port-a-Patch book chapter in World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering 2018. Authors: Langthaler S., Bergmoser K., Lassnig A., Baumgartner C.

In cancer cells specific ion channels exhibit altered channel expression, which can drive malignant and metastatic cell behavior. Hence, therapeutic strategies modulating ion channels prove to be promising in cancer therapeutics. Alterations in temperature, even small deviations from normothermia, may cause changes in electrophysiological processes, since activation and conductivity of various ion channels are temperature-dependent. In this pilot study, we focused on a basic understanding of the effects of temperature-alterations on voltage-gated ion channels of A549 cells using an automated patch-clamp system. The measurements were carried out in whole-cell voltage-clamped configuration applying test pulses between −60 and +60 mV. For positive voltages the ion-current curves showed an instantaneously increased conductance, followed by a slow current increase provoked by later activating voltage-gated ion channels, indicating the time-delayed response of additional channels. To investigate the temperature-dependent electrophysiological behavior, six cells (passages 7–10, n = 34) were examined at room temperature and normal body temperature. Compared to normal body temperature, reduced temperatures revealed a higher whole-cell current at negative voltages (63.4% (±18.5%), −60 mV) and lower currents (52.6% (±27.3%), +60 mV) at positive voltages, indicating a hypothermia-induced modulation of voltage-gated channels in the lung cancer cell line A549.

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2018 – The lipid environment determines the activity of the E. coli ammonium transporter, AmtB
SURFE2R N1 Publication in Faseb J (2018) Authors: Mirandela G.D., Tamburrino G., Hoskisson P.A., Zachariae U., Javelle A.

The movement of ammonium across biological membranes is a fundamental process in all living organisms and is mediated by the ubiquitous Amt/Mep/Rh family of transporters. Recent structural analysis and coupled mass spectrometry studies have shown that the Escherichia coli ammonium transporter, AmtB, specifically binds phosphatidylglycerol (PG). Upon PG binding, several residues of AmtB undergo a small conformational change, which stabilizes the protein against unfolding. However, no studies have so far been conducted to explore if PG binding to AmtB has functional consequences. Here, we used an in vitro experimental assay with purified components together with molecular dynamics simulations to characterise the relation between PG binding and AmtB activity. Firstly, our results indicate that the function of Amt in archaebacteria and eubacteria may differ. Secondly, we show that PG is an essential cofactor for AmtB activity and that in the absence of PG AmtB cannot complete the full translocation cycle. Furthermore, our simulations reveal previously undiscovered PG binding sites on the intracellular side of the lipid bilayer between the AmtB subunits. The possible molecular mechanisms explaining the functional role of PG are discussed.

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2018 – The Multifaceted Antibacterial Mechanisms of the Pioneering Peptide Antibiotics Tyrocidine and Gramicidin S
Orbit 16 Publication in American Society for Microbiology (2018) Authors: Wenzel M., Rautenbach M., Vosloo J.A., Siersma T., Aisenbrey C.H.M., Zaitseva E., Laubscher W.E., van Rensburg W., Behrends J.C., Bechinger B., Hamoen L.W.

Cyclic β-sheet decapeptides from the tyrocidine group and the homologous gramicidin S were the first commercially used antibiotics, yet it remains unclear exactly how they kill bacteria. We investigated their mode of action using a bacterial cytological profiling approach. Tyrocidines form defined ion-conducting pores, induce lipid phase separation, and strongly reduce membrane fluidity, resulting in delocalization of a broad range of peripheral and integral membrane proteins. Interestingly, they also cause DNA damage and interfere with DNA-binding proteins. Despite sharing 50% sequence identity with tyrocidines, gramicidin S causes only mild lipid demixing with minor effects on membrane fluidity and permeability. Gramicidin S delocalizes peripheral membrane proteins involved in cell division and cell envelope synthesis but does not affect integral membrane proteins or DNA. Our results shed a new light on the multifaceted antibacterial mechanisms of these antibiotics and explain why resistance to them is virtually nonexistent. Importance:Cyclic β-sheet decapeptides, such as tyrocidines and gramicidin S, were among the first antibiotics in clinical application. Although they have been used for such a long time, there is virtually no resistance to them, which has led to a renewed interest in this peptide class. Both tyrocidines and gramicidin S are thought to disrupt the bacterial membrane. However, this knowledge is mainly derived from in vitro studies, and there is surprisingly little knowledge about how these long-established antibiotics kill bacteria. Our results shed new light on the antibacterial mechanism of β-sheet peptide antibiotics and explain why they are still so effective and why there is so little resistance to them.

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2018 – The opioid oxycodone use‐dependently inhibits the cardiac sodium channel NaV1.5
CardioExcyte 96 Publication in British Journal of Pharmacology (2018) Authors: Meents J.E., Juhasz K., Stölzle-Feix S., Peuckmann-Post V., Rolke R. Lampert A.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Oxycodone is a potent semi-synthetic opioid that is commonly used for the treatment of severe acute and chronic pain. However, treatment with oxycodone can lead to cardiac electrical changes, such as long-QT syndrome, potentially inducing sudden cardiac arrest. Here, we investigate whether the cardiac side effects of oxycodone can be explained by modulation of the cardiac sodium channel NaV1.5. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Heterologously expressed NaV1.5, NaV1.7 or NaV1.8 were used for whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology. A variety of voltage-clamp protocols was used to test the effect of oxycodone on different channel gating modalities. Human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes were used to measure the effect of oxycodone on cardiomyocyte beating. KEY RESULTS: Oxycodone concentration-dependently and use-dependently inhibits NaV1.5 with an IC50 of 483.2 μM. In addition, oxycodone slows recovery of NaV1.5 from fast inactivation and increases slow inactivation. At high concentrations, these effects lead to a reduced beat rate in cardiomyocytes and to arrhythmia. In contrast, no effects could be observed on NaV1.7 or NaV1.8. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Oxycodone leads to an accumulation of NaV1.5 in inactivated states with a slow time course. While the concentrations needed to elicit cardiac arrhythmia in vitro are comparably high, some patients under long-term treatment with oxycodone as well as drug abusers and addicts might suffer from severe cardiac side effects induced by the slow effects of oxycodone on NaV1.5.

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2018 – Thymol Induces Conidial Apoptosis in Aspergillus flavus via Stimulating K+ Eruption
Port-a-Patch Publication in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2018) Authors: Hu L.-B., Ban F.-F., Li H.-B., Qian P.-P., Shen Q.-S., Yan-Zhao Y., Mo H.-Z., Zhou X.

Aspergillus flavus is a notorious foodborne fungus, posing a significant risk to humans in the form of hepatocellular carcinoma or aspergillosis. Thymol, as a food preservative, could efficiently kill conidia of A. flavus. However, the underlying mechanisms by which thymol kills A. flavus are not completely understood. With specific fluorescent dyes, we detected several apoptotic hallmarks, including chromatin condensation, phosphatidylserine externalization, DNA damage, mitochondrial depolarization, and caspase 9 activation in conidia exposed to 200 μg/mL of thymol, indicating that thymol induced a caspase-dependent conidial apoptosis in A. flavus. Chemical–protein interactome (CPI) and autodock analyses showed that KCNAB, homologue to the β-subunit of the voltage-gated potassium channel (KV) and aldo-keto reductase, was the potential target of thymol. Following studies demonstrated that thymol could activate the aldo-keto reductase activity of KCNAB in vitro and stimulate a transient K+ efflux in conidia, as determined using a Port-a-Patch. Blocking K+ eruption by 4-aminopyridine (a universal inhibitor of KV) could significantly alleviate thymol-mediated conidial apoptosis, indicating that activation of KV was responsible for the apoptosis. Taken together, our results revealed a K+ efflux-mediated apoptotic pathway in A. flavus, which greatly contributed to the development of an alternative strategy to control this pathogen.

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2018 – Towards Novel Bioactive Antiperspirants for Cosmetic Applications
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) Publication in IFSCC (2018) Authors: Ertongur-Fauth T., Fischer S., Hartmann D., Brüggemann A., Seeger V., Kleber A., Krohn M.

Sweating is a fundamental process required for human thermoregulation. In today’s modern society, however, extensive sweating is rather considered unpleasant or embarrassing, or can even cause severe psychosocial pressure. Sweat reduction by antiperspirants is therefore of huge cosmetic interest. Currently, the global use of aluminum salts as antiperspirants is controversial, but no alternatives exist so far. We developed a new concept for sweat reduction which is based on directly targeting primary fluid secretion in human sweat glands. We identified a long searched for key player in human sweat glands - the ion channel TMEM16A, also known as ANO1. We extensively characterized TMEM16A and its function in native human sweat glands and sweat gland tissue culture cells by using a wide variety of different techniques such as immunohistological staining, chloride flux assays, automated patch clamping as well as state-of-the-art CRISPR/ Cas9 genome editing technology. We generated a proprietary cell-based assay to emulate TMEM16A function in a cellular sweat gland environment. We combined this cell-based assay with our cherry-picked compound libraries and performed high-throughput screening campaigns which uncovered smallmolecule modulators of TMEM16A. In silico and in vitro toxicological assessments as well as stability and formulation tests were performed and yielded compounds that are currently being tested for their sweat reduction efficacy in vivo.

Poster PDF
2018 – Transported by light: optogenetic control of NCX1
SURFE2R N1 poster, Biophysics Annual Meeting 2018
2018 – Transporters Investigated Using the SURFE2R Instruments
Dr. Maria Barthmes, Product Manager SURFE2R product family, Nanion Technologies GmbH, Germany

Webinar: "The SURFE2R Technology: Assays for Pharmacological and Functional Characterization of Membrane Transporters"
January 30, 2018

Maria explains the solid supported membrane (SSM)-based methodology and gives a brief introduction on our two devices, the SURFE2R 96SE and the SURFE2R N1.

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2018 – TRPM8 Activation via 3-Iodothyronamine Blunts VEGF-Induced Transactivation of TRPV1 in Human Uveal Melanoma Cells
Port-a-Patch Publication in Frontiers in Pharmacology (2018) Authors: Walcher, L., Budde, C., Böhm, A., Reinach, P.S., Dhandapani, P., Ljubojevic, N., Schweiger, M.W., von der Waydbrink, H., Reimers, I., Köhrle, J., Mergler, S.

In human uveal melanoma (UM), tumor enlargement is associated with increases in aqueous humor vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) content that induce neovascularization. 3-Iodothyronamine (3-T1AM), an endogenous thyroid hormone metabolite, activates TRP melastatin 8 (TRPM8), which blunts TRP vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) activation by capsaicin (CAP) in human corneal, conjunctival epithelial cells, and stromal cells. We compare here the effects of TRPM8 activation on VEGF-induced transactivation of TRPV1 in an UM cell line (92.1) with those in normal primary porcine melanocytes (PM) since TRPM8 is upregulated in melanoma. Fluorescence Ca2+-imaging and planar patch-clamping characterized functional channel activities. CAP (20 μM) induced Ca2+ transients and increased whole-cell currents in both the UM cell line and PM whereas TRPM8 agonists, 100 μM menthol and 20 μM icilin, blunted such responses in the UM cells. VEGF (10 ng/ml) elicited Ca2+ transients and augmented whole-cell currents, which were blocked by capsazepine (CPZ; 20 μM) but not by a highly selective TRPM8 blocker, AMTB (20 μM). The VEGF-induced current increases were not augmented by CAP. Both 3-T1AM (1 μM) and menthol (100 μM) increased the whole-cell currents, whereas 20 μM AMTB blocked them. 3-T1AM exposure suppressed both VEGF-induced Ca2+ transients and increases in underlying whole-cell currents. Taken together, functional TRPM8 upregulation in UM 92.1 cells suggests that TRPM8 is a potential drug target for suppressing VEGF induced increases in neovascularization and UM tumor growth since TRPM8 activation blocked VEGF transactivation of TRPV1.

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2018 – Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Induced Downstream Responses to Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) and 3-Iodothyronamine (3-T1AM) in Human Corneal Keratocytes
Port-a-Patch Publication in Frontiers in Pharmacology (2018) Authors: Türker, E., Garreis, F., Khajavi, N., Reinach, P.S., Joshi, P., Brockmann, T., Lucius, A., Ljubojevic, N., Turan, E., Cooper, D., Schick, F., Reinholz, R., Pleyer, U., Köhrle, J., Mergler, S.

This study was undertaken to determine if crosstalk among the transient receptor potential (TRP) melastatin 8 (TRPM8), TRP vanilloid 1 (TRPV1), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor triad modulates VEGF-induced Ca2+ signaling in human corneal keratocytes. Using RT-PCR, qPCR and immunohistochemistry, we determined TRPV1 and TRPM8 gene and protein coexpression in a human corneal keratocyte cell line (HCK) and human corneal cross sections. Fluorescence Ca2+ imaging using both a photomultiplier and a single cell digital imaging system as well as planar patch-clamping measured relative intracellular Ca2+ levels and underlying whole-cell currents. The TRPV1 agonist capsaicin increased both intracellular Ca2+ levels and whole-cell currents, while the antagonist capsazepine (CPZ) inhibited them. VEGF-induced Ca2+ transients and rises in whole-cell currents were suppressed by CPZ, whereas a selective TRPM8 antagonist, AMTB, increased VEGF signaling. In contrast, an endogenous thyroid hormone-derived metabolite 3-Iodothyronamine (3-T1AM) suppressed increases in the VEGF-induced current. The TRPM8 agonist menthol increased the currents, while AMTB suppressed this response. The VEGF-induced increases in Ca2+ influx and their underlying ionic currents stem from crosstalk between VEGFR and TRPV1, which can be impeded by 3-T1AM-induced TRPM8 activation. Such suppression in turn blocks VEGF-induced TRPV1 activation. Therefore, crosstalk between TRPM8 and TRPV1 inhibits VEGFR-induced activation of TRPV1.

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2018 – Visualizing Tension and Growth in Model Membranes Using Optical Dyes
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Biophysical Journal (2018) Authors: Boyd M.A., Kamat N.P.

Cells dynamically regulate their membrane surface area during a variety of processes critical to their survival. Recent studies with model membranes have pointed to a general mechanism for surface area regulation under tension in which cell membranes unfold or take up lipid to accommodate membrane strain. Yet we lack robust methods to simultaneously measure membrane tension and surface area changes in real time. Using lipid vesicles that contain two dyes isolated to spatially distinct parts of the membrane, we introduce, to our knowledge, a new method to monitor the processes of membrane stretching and lipid uptake in model membranes. Laurdan, located within the bilayer membrane, and Förster resonance energy transfer dyes, localized to the membrane exterior, act in concert to report changes in membrane tension and lipid uptake during osmotic stress. We use these dyes to show that membranes under tension take up lipid more quickly and in greater amounts compared to their nontensed counterparts. Finally, we show that this technique is compatible with microscopy, enabling real-time analysis of membrane dynamics on a single vesicle level. Ultimately, the combinatorial use of these probes offers a more complete picture of changing membrane morphology. Our optical method allows us to remotely track changes in membrane tension and surface area with model membranes, offering new opportunities to track morphological changes in artificial and biological membranes and providing new opportunities in fields ranging from mechanobiology to drug delivery.

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2019 – A comparison of ion channel current blockades caused by individual poly(ethylene glycol) molecules and polyoxometalate nanoclusters
Orbit 16 Publication in The European Physical Journal E (2019) Authors: Wang H., Kasianowicz J.J., Robertson J.W.F., Poster D.L., Ettedgui J.

Proteinaceous nanometer-scale pores have been used to detect and physically characterize many different types of analytes at the single-molecule limit. The method is based on the ability to measure the transient reduction in the ionic channel conductance caused by molecules that partition into the pore. The distribution of blockade depth amplitudes and residence times of the analytes in the pore are used to physically and chemically characterize them. Here we compare the current blockade events caused by flexible linear polymers of ethylene glycol (PEGs) and structurally well-defined tungsten polyoxymetallate nanoparticles in the nanopores formed by Staphylococcus aureus α -hemolysin and Aeromonas hydrophila aerolysin. Surprisingly, the variance in the ionic current blockade depth values for the relatively rigid metallic nanoparticles is much greater than that for the flexible PEGs, possibly because of multiple charged states of the polyoxymetallate clusters.

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2019 – A Fusion Peptide in the Spike Protein of MERS CoroNaVirus
Vesicle Prep Pro Publication in Viruses (2019) Authors: Alsaadi E.A.J., Neuman B.W., and Jones I.M.

CoroNaViruses represent current and emerging threats for many species, including humans. Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coroNaVirus (MERS-CoV) is responsible for sporadic infections in mostly Middle Eastern countries, with occasional transfer elsewhere. A key step in the MERS-CoV replication cycle is the fusion of the virus and host cell membranes mediated by the virus spike protein, S. The location of the fusion peptide within the MERS S protein has not been precisely mapped. We used isolated peptides and giant unilamellar vesicles (GUV) to demonstrate membrane binding for a peptide located near the N-terminus of the S2 domain. Key residues required for activity were mapped by amino acid replacement and their relevance in vitro tested by their introduction into recombinant MERS S protein expressed in mammalian cells. Mutations preventing membrane binding in vitro also abolished S-mediated syncytium formation consistent with the identified peptide acting as the fusion peptide for the S protein of MERS-CoV.

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2019 – A Kinetic Map of the Homomeric Voltage-Gated Potassium Channel (KV) Family
Patchliner Publication in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience (2019) Authors: Ranjan R., Logette E., Marani M., Herzog M., Tâche V., Scantamburlo E., Buchillier V., Markram H.

The voltage-gated potassium (KV) channels, encoded by 40 genes, repolarize all electrically excitable cells, including plant, cardiac, and neuronal cells. Although these genes were fully sequenced decades ago, a comprehensive kinetic characterization of all KV channels is still missing, especially near physiological temperature. Here, we present a standardized kinetic map of the 40 homomeric KV channels systematically characterized at 15, 25, and 35°C. Importantly, the KV kinetics at 35°C differ significantly from commonly reported kinetics, usually performed at room temperature. We observed voltage-dependent Q10 for all active KV channels and inherent heterogeneity in kinetics for some of them. Kinetic properties are consistent across different host cell lines and conserved across mouse, rat, and human. All electrophysiology data from all KV channels are made available through a public website (Channelpedia). This dataset provides a solid foundation for exploring kinetics of heteromeric channels, roles of auxiliary subunits, kinetic modulation, and for building accurate KV models.

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2019 – A Novel Gain-Of-Function Mutation Of Piezo1 Is Functionally Affirmed In Red Blood Cells By High-Throughput Patch Clamp
SyncroPatch 384PE (a predecessor model of SyncroPatch 384i) Publication in Haematologica (2019) Authors: Rotordam G.M., Fermo E., Becker N., Barcellini W., Brüggemann A., Fertig N., Egée S., Rapedius M., Bianchi P., Kaestner L.

Piezo1 is a mechanosensitive ion channel that is believed to be expressed in red blood cells (RBCs), mainly supported by the findings that mutations of PIEZO1 gene are associated with the RBC disease Hereditary Xerocytosis. So far several mutations have been reported, e.g. R2456H, T2127M and E2496ELE, to exhibit a partial gain-of-function phenotype with generation of mechanically activated currents that inactivate more slowly than wild type. However, characterisation of the mutated ion channel has almost exclusively been performed based on heterologous expression in cell lines and recordings in RBCs were rather of episodic character. Here we present a patient with a novel PIEZO1 mutation (R2110W) and a patch clamp based high-throughput screening assay for Piezo1 activity. It is the first electrophysiologic single-cell based screening ever performed on RBCs, demonstrating the Piezo1 gain-of-function mutation directly on RBCs. Thus we provide a putative routine approach for detecting functional (Piezo1) channel mutations as the molecular cause of rare anaemia that can become a standard method in specialised haematological centres.