Electrophysiology of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has the potential to bridge the wealth of information on the molecular biology and anatomy of this organism with the responses of selected cells and cellular neural networks associated with a behavioral response. In this paper we report that the nonlinear optical phenomenon of second harmonic generation (SHG) can be detected using green fluorescent protein (GFP) chimeras expressed in selected cells of living animals. Alterations in the SHG signal as a result of receptor ligand interactions and mechanical stimulation of the mechanosensory cells indicate that this signal is very sensitive to membrane potential. The results suggest that this approach to membrane potential measurements in C. elegans and in other biological systems could effectively couple data on selective locations within specific cells with functional responses that are associated with behavioral and sensory processes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
A.K. is the recipient of a Levi Eshkhol graduate fellowship from the Israel Ministry of Sciences. A.L. would like to thank the Israel Ministry of Science for support through its infrastructure program. A.L. and L.L. gratefully acknowledge financial support from ONR N0014-98-1-0703.