Reconstitution of a transmembrane protein, the voltage-gated ion channel, KvAP, into giant unilamellar vesicles for microscopy and patch clamp studies

J Vis Exp. 2015 Jan 22;(95):52281. doi: 10.3791/52281.

Abstract

Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUVs) are a popular biomimetic system for studying membrane associated phenomena. However, commonly used protocols to grow GUVs must be modified in order to form GUVs containing functional transmembrane proteins. This article describes two dehydration-rehydration methods - electroformation and gel-assisted swelling - to form GUVs containing the voltage-gated potassium channel, KvAP. In both methods, a solution of protein-containing small unilamellar vesicles is partially dehydrated to form a stack of membranes, which is then allowed to swell in a rehydration buffer. For the electroformation method, the film is deposited on platinum electrodes so that an AC field can be applied during film rehydration. In contrast, the gel-assisted swelling method uses an agarose gel substrate to enhance film rehydration. Both methods can produce GUVs in low (e.g., 5 mM) and physiological (e.g., 100 mM) salt concentrations. The resulting GUVs are characterized via fluorescence microscopy, and the function of reconstituted channels measured using the inside-out patch-clamp configuration. While swelling in the presence of an alternating electric field (electroformation) gives a high yield of defect-free GUVs, the gel-assisted swelling method produces a more homogeneous protein distribution and requires no special equipment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated / chemistry*
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated / metabolism
  • Unilamellar Liposomes / chemistry*
  • Unilamellar Liposomes / metabolism

Substances

  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated
  • Unilamellar Liposomes