Principles of Electrophysiology: An Overview

Toshio Narahashi1

1 Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Toxicology
Unit Number:  Unit 11.10
DOI:  10.1002/0471140856.tx1110s17
Online Posting Date:  November, 2003
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This overview gives brief accounts of the mechanism of nerve excitation, receptor/channel functions, cable properties of neurons, and voltage clamp and patch clamp principles. Among various aspects of electrophysiology, emphasis is placed on the mechanistic studies of receptors/channels. A few sample records of membrane currents are illustrated to aid reader's comprehension. Finally some useful reference books are given for more comprehensive information.

Keywords: voltage clamp; patch clamp; cable properties; receptors; ion channels

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Table of Contents

  • Neuroreceptors and Ion Channels
  • Basic Principle of Receptor/Channel Function
  • Examples of Current Records
  • Acknowledgements
  • Literature Cited
  • Figures
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Literature Cited

   Aistrup, G.L., Marszalec, W., and Narahashi, T. 1999. Ethanol modulation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor currents in cultured cortical neurons. Mol. Pharmacol. 55:39‐49.
   Catterall, W.A. 1992. Cellular and molecular biology of voltage‐gated sodium channels. Physiol. Rev. 72:S15‐S48.
   Catterall, W.A. 1995. Structure and function of voltage‐gated ion channels. Annu. Rev. Biochem. 64:493‐531.
   Catterall, W.A., Morrow, C.S., Daly, J.W., and Brown, G.B. 1981. Binding of batrachotoxin A20‐α‐benzoate to a receptor site associated with sodium channels in synaptic nerve ending particles. J. Biol. Chem. 256:9822‐9827.
   Chinn, K. and Narahashi, T. 1986. Stabilization of sodium channel states by deltamethrin in mouse neuroblastoma cells. J. Physiol. 380:191‐207.
   Cole, K.S. 1949. Dynamic electrical characteristics of the squid axon membrane. Arch. Sci. Physiol. 3:253‐258.
   Dodge, F.A. and Frankenhaeuser, B. 1959. Sodium currents in the myelinated nerve fibre of Xenopus laevis investigated with the voltage clamp technique. J. Physiol. 148:188‐200.
   Hagiwara, S. and Saito, N. 1959. Voltage‐current relations in nerve cell membrane of Onchidium verruculatum. J. Physiol. 148:161‐179.
   Hamill, O.P., Marty, A., Neher, E., Sakmann, B., and Sigworth, F.J. 1981. Improved patch‐clamp techniques for high–resolution current recording from cells and cell‐free membrane patches. Pflügers Arch. 391:85‐100.
   Hille, B., 2001. Ion Channels of Excitable Membranes. 3rd ed. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Mass.
   Hodgkin, A.L. and Huxley, A.F. 1952a. Currents carried by sodium and potassium ions through the membrane of giant axon of Loligo. J. Physiol. 116:449‐472.
   Hodgkin, A.L. and Huxley, A.F. 1952b. The components of membrane conductance in the giant axon of Loligo. J. Physiol. 116:473‐496.
   Hodgkin, A.L. and Huxley, A.F. 1952c. The dual effect of membrane potential on sodium conductance in the giant axon of Loligo. J. Physiol. 116:497‐506.
   Hodgkin, A.L. and Huxley, A.F. 1952d. A quantitative description of membrane current and its application to conduction and excitation in nerve. J. Physiol. 117:500‐544.
   Hodgkin, A.L., Huxley, A.F., and Katz, B. 1952. Measurement of current–voltage relations in the membrane of the giant axon of Loligo. J. Physiol. 116:424‐448.
   Julian, F.J., Moore, J.W., and Goldman, D.E. 1962a. Membrane potentials of the lobster giant axon obtained by use of the sucrose‐gap technique. J. Gen. Physiol. 45:1195‐1216.
   Julian, F.J., Moore, J.W., and Goldman, D.E. 1962b. Current‐voltage relations in the lobster giant axon membrane under voltage clamp conditions. J. Gen. Physiol. 45:1217‐1238.
   Nagata, K., Huang, C.‐S., Song, J.‐H., and Narahashi, T. 1997. Lead modulation of the neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in PC12 cells. Brain Res. 754:21‐27.
   Narahashi, T. 1971. Effects of insecticides on excitable tissues. In Advances in Insect Physiology, Vol. 8 (J.W.L. Beament, J.E. Treherne, and V.B. Wigglesworth, eds.) pp. 1‐93. Academic Press, London.
   Narahashi, T. 1981. Mode of action of chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides on the nervous system. In Halogenated Hydrocarbons: Health and Ecological Effects (M.A.Q. Khan, ed.) pp. 222‐242. Pergamon Press, Elmsford, N.Y.
   Narahashi, T. 1984. Drug‐ionic channel interactions: Single channel measurements. Ann. Neurol. 16:S39‐S51.
   Narahashi, T. 1992. Mechanisms of neurotoxicity. Electrophysiological studies. Cellular electrophysiology. In Neurotoxicology. (M.B. Abou‐Donia, ed.) pp. 155‐189. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla.
   Narahashi, T. 1998. Chemical modulation of sodium channels. In Ion Channel Pharmacology (B. Soria and V. Ceúa, eds.) pp. 23‐73. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
   Neher, E. and Sakmann, B. 1976. Single‐channel currents recorded from membrane of denervated frog muscle fibres. Nature 260:779‐802.
   Song, J.‐H. and Narahashi, T. 1996. Modulation of sodium channels of rat cerebellar Purkinje neurons by the pyrethroid tetramethrin. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 277:445‐453.
   Takeuchi, A. and Takeuchi, N. 1959. Active phase of frog's end‐plate potential. J. Neurophysiol. 22:395‐411.
Key References
   Aidley, D.J. 1998. The Physiology of Excitable Cells. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.
  Gives basic electrophysiology including cable properties, mechanism of nerve excitation, and synaptic transmission.
   Hille, 2001. See above.
  An advanced level textbook of ion channel physiology.
   Sakmann, B. and Neher, E. 1995. Single‐Channel Recording. Plenum Press, New York.
  Describes details of patch‐clamp technology including whole‐cell and single‐channel patch clamp, data analyses, and other details.
   Walz, W., Boulton, A.A., and Baker, G.B. (eds.). 2002. Patch‐clamp analysis: advanced techniques. In Neuromethods, Vol. 35 (A.A. Boulton and G.B. Baker, series eds.). Humana Press, Totowa, N.J.
  Describes updated versions of patch‐clamp technologies, including those developed during the last decade.
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