Artificial lipid bilayer single-channel recording technique has been employed to determine the biophysical and pharmacological properties of various ion channels. However, its measurement efficiency is very low, as it requires two time-consuming processes: preparation of lipid bilayer membranes and incorporation of ion channels into the membranes. In order to address these problems, we previously developed a technique based on hydrophilically modified gold probes on which are immobilized ion channels that can be promptly incorporated into the bilayer membrane at the same time as the membrane is formed on the probes’ hydrophilic area. Here, we improved further this technique by optimizing the gold probe and developed an automated channel current measurement system. We found that use of probes with rounded tips enhanced the efficiency of channel current measurements, and introducing a hydrophobic area on the probe surface, beside the hydrophilic one, further increased measurement efficiency by boosting membrane stability. Moreover, we developed an automated measurement system using the optimized probes; it enabled us to automatically measure channel currents and analyze the effects of a blocker on channel activity. Our study will contribute to the development of high-throughput devices to identify drug candidates affecting ion channel activity.
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