Errors in the measurement of voltage-activated ion channels in cell-attached patch-clamp recordings

Stephen R. Williams, Christian Wozny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Patch-clamp recording techniques have revolutionized understanding of the function and sub-cellular location of ion channels in excitable cells. The cell-attached patch-clamp configuration represents the method of choice to describe the endogenous properties of voltage-activated ion channels in the axonal, somatic and dendritic membrane of neurons, without disturbance of the intracellular milieu. Here, we directly examine the errors associated with cell-attached patch-clamp measurement of ensemble ion channel activity. We find for a number of classes of voltage-activated channels, recorded from the soma and dendrites of neurons in acute brain-slices and isolated cells, that the amplitude and kinetics of ensemble ion channel activity recorded in cell-attached patches is significantly distorted by transmembrane voltage changes generated by the flow of current through the activated ion channels. We outline simple error-correction procedures that allow a more accurate description of the density and properties of voltage-activated channels to be incorporated into computational models of neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Article number242
Number of pages9
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2011


  • animals
  • artifacts
  • brain
  • cell membrane
  • cyclic nucleotide-gated cation channels
  • dendrites
  • electric conductivity
  • electricity
  • gene expression
  • HEK293 Cells
  • humans
  • hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channels
  • ion channel gating
  • ions
  • membrane potentials
  • mice
  • models, biological
  • neurons
  • patch-clamp techniques
  • plasmids
  • potassium channels
  • rats
  • rats, wistar
  • transfection

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