We have developed a method to measure binding of adenine nucleotides to intact, functional transmembrane receptors in a cellular or membrane environment. This method combines expression of proteins tagged with the fluorescent non-canonical amino acid ANAP, and FRET between ANAP and fluorescent (trinitrophenyl) nucleotide derivatives. We present examples of nucleotide binding to ANAP-tagged KATP ion channels measured in unroofed plasma membranes and excised, inside-out membrane patches under voltage clamp. The latter allows for simultaneous measurements of ligand binding and channel current, a direct readout of protein function. Data treatment and analysis are discussed extensively, along with potential pitfalls and artefacts. This method provides rich mechanistic insights into the ligand-dependent gating of KATP channels and can readily be adapted to the study of other nucleotide-regulated proteins or any receptor for which a suitable fluorescent ligand can be identified.
J Vis Exp