Fundamental Concepts in Biophysics

Part of the series Handbook of Modern Biophysics pp 1-35


Electrophysiological Measurements of Membrane Proteins

  • Tsung-Yu ChenAffiliated withCenter for Neuroscience, University of CaliforniaDepartments of Neurology, University of California
  • , Yu-Fung LinAffiliated withAnesthesiology,, University of CaliforniaPhysiology and Membrane Biology, University of California
  • , Jie ZhengAffiliated withPhysiology and Membrane Biology, University of California

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Ion channels and transporters are macromolecular proteins in the cell membrane that consist of ion transport pathways in the protein structure. These membrane proteins catalyze ion flux across lipid membranes and thus generate currents that flow into or out of cells. By altering electric currents through cell membranes, ion channels and transporters control the membrane potential, an important property of living cells [1]. In addition, the ions that flow into cells (for example, Ca2+ ions) may play significant roles as intracellular messengers, and thus are critical for signal transduction mechanisms in cells [2]. A defect in ion transport can result in a variety of cellular malfunctions that cause many human diseases [3].