For the past 30 years, oocytes from Xenopus laevis have been extensively used to express and characterise ion channels in an easily controlled environment. Here we report the first use of oocytes from the closely related species Xenopus borealis as an alternative expression system for neuronal ion channels. Using the two-electrode voltage-clamp technique, we show that a wide variety of voltage-and ligand-gated ion channels have the same channel properties and pharmacological profiles when expressed in either X. laevis or X. borealis oocytes. Potential advantages of the X. borealis oocytes include a smaller endogenous chloride current and the ability to produce more intense fluorescence signals when studied with voltage-clamp fluorometry. Scanning electron microscopy revealed a difference in vitelline membrane structure between the two species, which may be related to the discrepancy in fluorescence signals observed. We demonstrate that X. borealis oocytes are a viable heterologous system for expression of neuronal ion channels with some potential advantages over X. laevis oocytes for certain applications.
- ion channels in the nervous system
- voltage clamp