Optical and electronic ion channel monitoring from native human membranes

Róísín M. Owens, Susan Daniel, Anna Maria Pappa, Han Yuan Liu, Walther Traberg-Christensen, Quentin Thiburce, Achilleas Savva, Aimie Pavia, Alberto Salleo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Transmembrane proteins represent a major target for modulating cell activity, both in terms of therapeutics drugs and for pathogen interactions. Work on screening such therapeutics or identifying toxins has been severely limited by the lack of available methods that would give high content information on functionality (ideally multimodal) and that are suitable for high-throughput. Here, we have demonstrated a platform that is capable of multimodal (optical and electronic) screening of ligand gated ion-channel activity in human-derived membranes. The TREK-1 ion-channel was expressed within supported lipid bilayers, formed via vesicle fusion of blebs obtained from the HEK cell line overexpressing TREK-1. The resulting reconstituted native membranes were confirmed via fluorescence recovery after photobleaching to form mobile bilayers on top of films of the polymeric electroactive transducer poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) polystyrenesulfonate (PEDOT:PSS). PEDOT:PSS electrodes were then used for quantitative electrochemical impedance spectroscopy measurements of ligand-mediated TREK-1 interactions with two compounds, spadin and arachidonic acid, known to suppress and activate TREK-1 channels, respectively. PEDOT:PSS-based organic electrochemical transistors were then used for combined optical and electronic measurements of TREK-1 functionality. The technology demonstrated here is highly promising for future high-throughput screening of transmembrane protein modulators owing to the robust nature of the membrane integrated device and the highly quantitative electrical signals obtained. This is in contrast with live-cell-based electrophysiology assays (e.g., patch clamp) which compare poorly in terms of cost, usability, and compatibility with optical transduction.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)12538-12545
Number of pages8
JournalACS Nano
Issue number10
StatePublished - 27 Oct 2020


  • Conducting polymer
  • Impedance
  • Ion channel
  • Organic electrochemical transistor
  • Supported lipid bilayer
  • TREK-1


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