Reconstitution of lysosomal ion channels into artificial membranes.
Venturi E., Sitsapesan R.
Ion channels that are located on intracellular organelles have always posed challenges for biophysicists seeking to measure their ion conduction, selectivity, and gating kinetics. Unlike cell surface ion channels, intracellular ion channels cannot be accessed for biophysical single-channel recordings using the patch-clamp technique while remaining in a physiological setting. Disruption of the cell is always necessary and hence experiments inevitably have a certain "artificial" nature about them. This drawback is turned to considerable advantage if the internal membranes containing the channels of interest can be isolated or if the channels can be purified because they can then be incorporated into artificial membranes of controlled composition. This approach guarantees a tight but flexible control over the biophysical and biochemical environment of the ion channel molecules. This includes the lipid composition of the membrane and the ionic solutions on both sides of the channel, thus allowing the conductance properties of the channel to be accurately measured. Since the influence of multiple unknown regulators of channel function (that could be present within the physiological membrane or in cytosolic, or intraorganelle compartments) is removed, the identification and characterization of physiological and pharmacological regulators that directly affect channel gating can also be achieved. This cannot be performed in a cellular environment. These techniques have typically been used to study the properties of channels located on endoplasmic/sarcoplasmic reticulum (ER/SR) membranes but in this chapter we describe how the techniques are also suited for ion channels of the acidic lysosomal and endolysosomal Ca(2+) stores.