Methods to study phosphoinositide regulation of ion channels

Methods Enzymol. 2021:652:49-79. doi: 10.1016/bs.mie.2021.01.025. Epub 2021 Mar 4.


Ion channel are embedded in the lipid bilayers of biological membranes. Membrane phospholipids constitute a barrier to ion movement, and they have been considered for a long time as a passive environment for channel proteins. Membrane phospholipids, however, do not only serve as a passive amphipathic environment, but they also modulate channel activity by direct specific lipid-protein interactions. Phosphoinositides are quantitatively minor components of biological membranes, and they play roles in many cellular functions, including membrane traffic, cellular signaling and cytoskeletal organization. Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate [PI(4,5)P2] is mainly found in the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane. Its role as a potential ion channel regulator was first appreciated over two decades ago and by now this lipid is a well-established cofactor or regulator of many different ion channels. The past two decades witnessed the steady development of techniques to study ion channel regulation by phosphoinositides with progress culminating in recent cryoEM structures that allowed visualization of how PI(4,5)P2 opens some ion channels. This chapter will provide an overview of the methods to study regulation by phosphoinositides, focusing on plasma membrane ion channels and PI(4,5)P2.

Keywords: Excised patch; Lipids; PIP(2); Phosphoinositides; Phospholipase C; Phospholipids; Voltage sensitive phosphatase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane
  • Ion Channels
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-Diphosphate*
  • Phosphatidylinositols*


  • Ion Channels
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-Diphosphate
  • Phosphatidylinositols