A nonlinear and time-dependent leak current in the presence of calcium fluoride patch-clamp seal enhancer

Published in Wellcome Open Research, 2020

Recommended citation: Lei, C.L., Fabbri, A., Whittaker, D.G., et al. (2020). "A nonlinear and time-dependent leak current in the presence of calcium fluoride patch-clamp seal enhancer." Wellcome Open Research, 5:152. https://doi.org/10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15968.1

Automated patch-clamp platforms are widely used and vital tools in both academia and industry to enable high-throughput studies such as drug screening. A leak current to ground occurs whenever the seal between a pipette and cell (or internal solution and cell in high-throughput machines) is not perfectly insulated from the bath (extracellular) solution. Over 1 GΩ seal resistance between pipette and bath solutions is commonly used as a quality standard for manual patch work. With automated platforms it can be difficult to obtain such a high seal resistance between the intra- and extra-cellular solutions. One suggested method to alleviate this problem is using an F- containing internal solution together with a Ca2+ containing external solution — so that a CaF2 crystal forms when the two solutions meet which ‘plugs the holes’ to enhance the seal resistance. However, we observed an unexpected nonlinear-in-voltage and time-dependent current using these solutions on an automated patch-clamp platform. We performed manual patch-clamp experiments with the automated patch-clamp solutions, but no biological cell, and observed the same nonlinear time-dependent leak current. The current could be completely removed by washing out F- ions to leave a conventional leak current that was linear and not time-dependent. We therefore conclude fluoride ions interacting with the CaF2 crystal are the origin of the nonlinear time-dependent leak current. The consequences of such a nonlinear and time-dependent leak current polluting measurements should be considered carefully if it cannot be isolated and subtracted.

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