Controllable ion channel expression through inducible transient transfection

Matan Geron, Adina Hazan, Avi Priel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Transfection, the delivery of foreign nucleic acids into a cell, is a powerful tool in protein research. Through this method, ion channels can be investigated through electrophysiological analysis, biochemical characterization, mutational studies, and their effects on cellular processes. Transient transfections offer a simple protocol in which the protein becomes available for analysis within a few hours to days. Although this method presents a relatively straightforward and time efficient protocol, one of the critical components is calibrating the expression of the gene of interest to physiological relevant levels or levels that are suitable for analysis. To this end, many different approaches that offer the ability to control the expression of the gene of interest have emerged. Several stable cell transfection protocols provide a way to permanently introduce a gene of interest into the cellular genome under the regulation of a tetracycline-controlled transcriptional activation. While this technique produces reliable expression levels, each gene of interest requires a few weeks of skilled work including calibration of a killing curve, selection of cell colonies, and overall more resources. Here we present a protocol that uses transient transfection of the Transient Receptor Potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1) gene in an inducible system as an efficient way to express a protein in a controlled manner which is essential in ion channel analysis. We demonstrate that using this technique, we are able to perform calcium imaging, whole cell, and single channel analysis with controlled channel levels required for each type of data collection with a single transfection. Overall, this provides a replicable technique that can be used to study ion channels structure and function.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere55370
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number120
StatePublished - 17 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Journal of Visualized Experiments.


  • Calcium imaging
  • Electrophysiology
  • Genetics
  • HEK293
  • Heterologous expression
  • Inducible expression
  • Issue 120
  • Protein expression
  • Single channel
  • TET repressor
  • Transfection
  • Whole cell


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