Induced membrane hypo/hyper-mechanosensitivity: a limitation of patch-clamp recording

Annu Rev Physiol. 1997;59:621-31. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.59.1.621.


Practical limitations of the patch-clamp technique when recording mechanogated membrane ion channels are considered. Mechanical overstimulation of the patch or the cell from excessive suction/pressure protocols induces morphological and functional changes. In particular, the plasma membrane becomes decoupled from the underlying cytoskeleton to form either membrane blebs (cell-attached) or ghosts (whole cell). As a consequence, a membrane ion channel may show either a decrease or an increase in its native mechanosensitivity or even acquire mechanosensitivity. The effect varies with ion channel and cell type and presumably arises because of a disruption of membrane-cytoskeleton interactions. We consider that such disruptions are a pathological consequence of excessive mechanical stress, either during or after seal formation, rather than an immutable consequence of patch-clamp recording. By careful attention to the suction/pressure protocols during sealing and throughout recording, such artifacts can be avoided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Membranes / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques*


  • Ion Channels