We have developed a genetically targetable, optical channel-gating reporter that converts rapid membrane potential changes into changes in fluorescence intensity. We have named this construct SPARC (sodium channel protein-based activity reporting construct). Green fluorescent protein was inserted into an intracellular loop of a reversibly nonconducting form of the rat μl skeletal muscle voltage-gated sodium channel. Rapid changes of the membrane potential modulate the fluorescence of the inserted green fluorescent protein. This change in fluorescence can faithfully report depolarizing pulses as short as 2 ms. The fluorescence signal does not inactivate during extended depolarizations. Several features of the probe's response properties indicate that it likely reports gating charge movement of a single domain of rat μl skeletal muscle. This probe provides a new approach for studying rapid channel movements and may possibly act as a fluorescent activity reporter in excitable cells.
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