Giga-ohm seals on intracellular membranes: a technique for studying intracellular ion channels in intact cells

Neuron. 1997 Jul;19(1):7-13. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80343-8.


A method is outlined for obtaining giga-ohm seals on intracellular membranes in intact cells. The technique employs a variant of the patch-clamp technique: a concentric electrode arrangement protects an inner patch pipette during penetration of the plasma membrane, after which a seal can be formed on an internal organelle membrane. Using this technique, successful recordings can be obtained with the same frequency as with conventional patch clamping. To localize the position of the pipette within cells, lipophilic fluorescent dyes are included in the pipette solution. These dyes stain the membrane of internal organelles during seal formation and can then be visualized by video-enhanced or confocal imaging. The method can detect channels activated by inositol trisphosphate, as well as other types of intracellular membrane ion channel activity, and should facilitate studies of internal membranes in intact neurons and other cell types.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cricetinae
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods*


  • Ion Channels