Induced membrane hypo/hyper-mechanosensitivity: A limitation of patch- clamp recording

Owen P. Hamill, Don W. McBride

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Practical limitations of the patch-clamp technique when recording mechanogated membrane ion channels are considered. Mechanical overstimulation of the patch or the cell from excessive suction/pressure protocols induces morphological and functional changes. In particular, the plasma membrane becomes decoupled from the underlying cytoskeleton to form either membrane blebs (cell-attached) or ghosts (whole cell). As a consequence, a membrane ion channel may show either a decrease or an increase in its native mechanosensitivity or even acquire mechanosensitivity. The effect varies with ion channel and cell type and presumably arises because of a disruption of membrane-cytoskeleton interactions. We consider that such disruptions are a pathological consequence of excessive mechanical stress, either during or after seal formation, rather than an immutable consequence of patch-clamp recording. By careful attention to the suction/pressure protocols during sealing and throughout recording, such artifacts can be avoided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-631
Number of pages11
JournalAnnual review of physiology
StatePublished - 1997


  • channel gating
  • hyper-mechanosensitivity
  • hypo- mechanosensitivity, patch clamp
  • mechanosensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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