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J Neurosci. 1999 Jul 1;19(13):5205-12.

Calcium-activated potassium conductances contribute to action potential repolarization at the soma but not the dendrites of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons.

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  • 1Division of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Evidence is accumulating that voltage-gated channels are distributed nonuniformly throughout neurons and that this nonuniformity underlies regional differences in excitability within the single neuron. Previous reports have shown that Ca2+, Na+, A-type K+, and hyperpolarization-activated, mixed cation conductances have varying distributions in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons, with significantly different densities in the apical dendrites compared with the soma. Another important channel mediates the large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ current (IC), which is responsible in part for repolarization of the action potential (AP) and generation of the afterhyperpolarization that follows the AP recorded at the soma. We have investigated whether this current is activated by APs retrogradely propagating in the dendrites of hippocampal pyramidal neurons using whole-cell dendritic patch-clamp recording techniques. We found no IC activation by back-propagating APs in distal dendritic recordings. Dendritic APs activated IC only in the proximal dendrites, and this activation decayed within the first 100-150 micrometer of distance from the soma. The decay of IC in the proximal dendrites occurred despite AP amplitude, plus presumably AP-induced Ca2+ influx, that was comparable with that at the soma. Thus we conclude that IC activation by action potentials is nonuniform in the hippocampal pyramidal neuron, which may represent a further example of regional differences in neuronal excitability that are determined by the nonuniform distribution of voltage-gated channels in dendrites.

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