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Patch Fluorometry

  1. Jie Zheng,
  2. Fan Yang

Published Online: 20 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0021386.pub2



How to Cite

Zheng, J. and Yang, F. 2013. Patch Fluorometry. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of California, Davis, California, USA

  1. Based in part on the previous version of this eLS article ‘Patch Fluorometry’ (2008) by Jie Zheng.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 SEP 2013


Patch fluorometry is a biophysical technique that combines the power of patch clamping and optical recording, with the aim of correlating local conformational rearrangements in ion channel protein with the channel gating process. This is achieved through simultaneous recordings of fluorescence and current signals from the same population of ion channels in a membrane patch. The method can be applied to studies of ion channel structure–function relationship as well as membrane protein dynamics. Unlike nuclear magnetic resonance or other biophysical methods for structural study, patch fluorometry provides real-time dynamic structural information from ion channels in their native membrane environment whereas they carry out their functions. Recent advances greatly expand the scope of this powerful method, allowing researchers to follow structural changes in channel protein with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions and accuracy.

Key Concepts:

  • Ion channels achieve their cell-sensor functions through changes in conformation in response to physical or chemical stimuli.

  • Conformational changes in an ion channel protein do not always alter the current, and are thus invisible to patch clamp recording.

  • Fluorescence emission is highly sensitive to the local environment of fluorophores.

  • Site-directed fluorophores serve as sensors for local structural changes.

  • Patch fluorometry allows direct correlation between channel protein conformational changes and the functional states of the channel.


  • fluorescence microscopy;
  • ion channel;
  • patch-clamping;
  • spectroscopy;
  • protein dynamics;
  • structure–function relationship;
  • conformational rearrangements