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Open Access Research article

Wavelet-based protocols for ion channel electrophysiology

Armin Kargol

Author Affiliations

Physics Department, Loyola University New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, 70118, USA

BMC Biophysics 2013, 6:3  doi:10.1186/2046-1682-6-3

Published: 14 March 2013



Fluctuation-induced phenomena caused by both random and deterministic stimuli have been previously studied in a variety of contexts. They are based on the interplay between the spectro-temporal patterns of the signal and the kinetics of the system it is applied to. The aim of this study was to develop a method for designing fluctuating inputs into nonlinear system which would elicit the most desired system output and to implement the method to studies of ion channels.


We describe an algorithm based on constructing the input as a superposition of wavelets and optimizing it according to a selected cost functional. The algorithm is applied to ion channel electrophysiology where the input is the fluctuating voltage delivered through a patch-clamp experimental apparatus and the output is the whole-cell ionic current. The algorithm is optimized to aid selection of Markov models of the gating kinetics of the voltage-gated Shaker K+ channel and tested by comparison of numerically obtained ionic currents predicted by different models with experimental data obtained from the Shaker K+ channels. Other applications and optimization criteria are also suggested.


The method described in this paper can be useful in development and testing of models of ion channel gating kinetics, developing voltage inputs that optimize certain nonequilibrium phenomena in ion channels, such as the kinetic focusing, and potentially has applications to other fields.

Voltage-gated Shaker potassium channel; Markov model; Wavelet; Patch clamping