Imaging the dynamics of individual electropores.
Electroporation is a widely used technique to permeabilize cell membranes. Despite its prevalence, our understanding of the mechanism of voltage-mediated pore formation is incomplete; methods capable of visualizing the time-dependent behavior of individual electropores would help improve our understanding of this process. Here, using optical single-channel recording, we track multiple isolated electropores in real time in planar droplet interface bilayers. We observe individual, mobile defects that fluctuate in size, exhibiting a range of dynamic behaviors. We observe fast (25 s^−1) and slow (2 s^−1) components in the gating of small electropores, with no apparent dependence on the applied potential. Furthermore, we find that electropores form preferentially in the liquid disordered phase. Our observations are in general supportive of the hydrophilic toroidal pore model of electroporation, but also reveal additional complexity in the interactions, dynamics, and energetics of electropores.