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Membrane Protein Chips

Membrane proteins play very important roles in cells. They are also useful in various industrial fields, including next-generation diagnosis techniques, drug discovery, and highly sensitive ion-channel-based biosensors. Here, we are working on membrane protein chips: an array of single-species-specific membrane proteins reconstituted into planar lipid bilayers formed in microfabricated holes and channels.

Automated Parallel Recordings of Topologically Identified Single Ion Channels

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Although ion channels are attractive targets for drug discovery, the systematic screening of ion channel-targeted drugs remains challenging. To facilitate automated single ion-channel recordings for the analysis of drug interactions with the intra- and extracellular domain, we have developed a parallel recording methodology using artificial cell membranes. The use of stable lipid bilayer formation in droplet chamber arrays facilitated automated, parallel, single-channel recording from reconstituted native and mutated ion channels. Using this system, several types of ion channels, including mutated forms, were characterised by determining the protein orientation. In addition, we provide evidence that both intra- and extracellular amyloid-beta peptide fragments directly inhibit the channel open probability of the hBK channel. This automated methodology provides a high-throughput drug screening system for the targeting of ion channels and a data-intensive analysis technique for studying ion channel gating mechanisms.
Ryuji Kawano et al., Scientific Reports, 2013

Highly reproducible method of planar lipid bilayer reconstitution in polymethyl methacrylate microfluidic chip

We developed a highly reproducible method for planar lipid bilayer reconstitution using a microfluidic system made of a polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) plastic substrate. Planar lipid bilayers are formed at apertures, 100 microm in diameter, by flowing lipid solution and buffer alternately into an integrated microfluidic channel. Since the amount and distribution of the lipid solution at the aperture determines the state of the lipid bilayer, controlling them precisely is crucial. We designed the geometry of the fluidic system so that a constant amount of lipid solution is distributed at the aperture. Then, the layer of lipid solution was thinned by applying an external pressure and finally became a bilayer when a pressure of 200-400 Pa was applied. The formation process can be simultaneously monitored with optical and electrical recordings. The maximum yield for bilayer formation was 90%. Using this technique, four lipid bilayers are formed simultaneously in a single chip. Finally, a channel current through gramicidin peptide ion channels was recorded to prove the compatibility of the chip with single molecule electrophysiology.

Electrophysiological recordings of single ion channels in planar lipid bilayers using a polymethyl methacrylate microfluidic chip

Planar lipid bilayers are used for functional studies of ion channel proteins using electrophysiological techniques. We have been developing a plastic micro-fluidic device for the reconstitution of planar lipid bilayers and electrophysiological recordings toward a “membrane protein chip” for high-throughput screening. In the previous report [Suzuki, H., Tabata, K.V., Noji, H., Takeuchi, S., 2006. Highly reproducible method of planar lipid bilayer reconstitution in polymethyl methacrylate microfluidic chip. Langmuir 22 (4), 1937-1942], we presented the method and device in which the reproducibility of planar lipid bilayers reached 90%, and multiple bilayers were formed simultaneously. In this communication, we show that our device has excellent electric properties suitable for ion channel analysis down to single molecular level. Additional aspects on the optical accessibility and controllability on lipid bilayer formation are also presented.

Lipid bilayer formation by contacting monolayers in a microfluidic device for membrane protein analysis

Artificial planar lipid bilayers are a powerful tool for the functional study of membrane proteins, yet they have not been widely used due to their low stability and reproducibility. This paper describes an accessible method to form a planar lipid bilayer, simply by contacting two monolayers assembled at the interface between water and organic solvent in a microfluidic chip. The membrane of an organic solvent containing phospholipids at the interface was confirmed to be a bilayer by the capacitance measurement and by measuring the ion channel signal from reconstituted antibiotic peptides. We present two different designs for bilayer formation. One equips two circular wells connected, in which the water/solvent/water interface was formed by simply injecting a water droplet into each well. Another equips the cross-shaped microfluidic channel. In the latter design, formation of the interface at the sectional area was controlled by external syringe pumps. Both methods are extremely simple and reproducible, especially in microdevices, and will lead to automation and multiple bilayer formation for the high-throughput screening of membrane transport in physiological and pharmaceutical studies.

Planar lipid bilayer reconstitution with a micro-fluidic system

A planar lipid bilayer which is widely used for the electrophysiological study of membrane proteins in laboratories is reconstituted using a micro-fluidic system, in a manner that is suitable for automated processing. We fabricated micro-channels on both sides of the substrate, which are connected through a 100-200 microm aperture, and showed that the bilayer can be formed at the aperture by flowing the lipid solution and buffer, alternately. Parylene coating is found to be suitable for both bilayer formation and electric noise reduction. Future applications include a high-sensitivity ion sensor chip and a high-throughput drug screening device.

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