Fluorescence emission spectral shift measurements of membrane potential in single cells

W. Y. Kao, Cristina E Davis, Y. I. Kim, J. M. Beach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Previous measurements of transmembrane potential using the electrochromic probe di-8-ANEPPS have used the excitation spectral shift response by alternating excitation between two wavelengths centered at voltage-sensitive portions of the excitation spectrum and recording at a single wavelength near the peak of the emission spectrum. Recently, the emission spectral shift associated with the change in transmembrane potential has been used for continuous membrane potential monitoring. To characterize this form of the electrochromic response from di-8-ANEPPS, we have obtained fluorescence signals from single cells in response to step changes in transmembrane potentials set with a patch electrode, using single wavelength excitation near the peak of the dye absorption spectrum. Fluorescence changes at two wavelengths near voltage-sensitive portions of the emission spectrum and shifts in the complete emission spectrum were determined for emission from plasma membrane and internal membrane. We found that the fluorescence ratio from either dual-wavelength recordings, or from opposite sides of the emission spectrum, varied linearly with the amplitude of the transmembrane potential step between -80 and +60 mV. Voltage dependence of difference spectra exhibit a crossover point near the peak of the emission spectra with approximately equal gain and loss of fluorescence intensity on each side of the spectrum and equal response amplitude for depolarization and hyperpolarization. These results are consistent with an electrochromic mechanism of action and demonstrate how the emission spectral shift response can be used to measure the transmembrane potential in single cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1163-1170
Number of pages8
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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