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  • Capturing Neurotransmitter Receptors and Ion Channels

    Neurotransmitter receptors and ion channels in the central nervous system are localized to synaptic and extrasynaptic membrane compartments of pre- and postsynaptic elements of neurons. The impact of the activation of these proteins on synaptic integration and regulation of transmitter release depends on their precise location relative to synapses, as well as on the density and coupling of molecules in microcompartments of the cells. High-resolution qualitative and quantitative visualization of membranebound receptors and ion channels is, therefore, essential for understanding their roles in cell communication.
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  • The Patch-Clamp Technique

    Especially in neuroscience, the physiology of ion channels has always been a major topic of interest. The development of the patch-clamp technique in the late 1970s has given electrophysiologists new prospects. It allows high-resolution current recordings not only of whole cells, but also of excised cellular patches. Even single-channel opening events can be investigated. However, with its complex technical, physical and biological background, the need for highly sensitive equipment and the huge amount of skills required of the experimenter, electrophysiology is still one of the most challenging methods in daily laboratory work.
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  • Mutagenesis and Functional Analysis of Ion Channels Heterologously Expressed in Mammalian Cells

    We will demonstrate how to study the functional effects of introducing a point mutation in an ion channel. We study G protein-gated inwardly rectifying potassium (referred to as GIRK) channels, which are important for regulating the excitability of neurons. There are four different mammalian GIRK channel subunits (GIRK1-GIRK4) – we focus on GIRK2 because it forms a homotetramer.
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  • New Standard in Electrophysiology and Deep Tissue Imaging

    The function of nerve and muscle cells relies on ionic currents flowing through ion channels. These ion channels play a major role in cell physiology. One way to investigate ion channels is to use patch clamping. This method allows investigation of ion channels in detail and recording of the electric activity of different types of cells, mainly excitable cells like neurons, muscle fibres or beta cells of the pancreas. The patch clamping technique was developed by Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann in the 1970s and 80s to study individual ion channels in living cells. In 1991 they received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for their work. Today the patch clamping technique is one of the most important methods in the field of electrophysiology.
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