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J Neurophysiol. 2010 May;103(5):2532-43. doi: 10.1152/jn.00506.2009. Epub 2010 Mar 10.

Dendritic HCN channels shape excitatory postsynaptic potentials at the inner hair cell afferent synapse in the mammalian cochlea.

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  • 1The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.

Abstract

Synaptic transmission at the inner hair cell (IHC) afferent synapse, the first synapse in the auditory pathway, is specialized for rapid and reliable signaling. Here we investigated the properties of a hyperpolarization-activated current (I(h)), expressed in the afferent dendrite of auditory nerve fibers, and its role in shaping postsynaptic activity. We used whole cell patch-clamp recordings from afferent dendrites directly where they contact the IHC in excised postnatal rat cochlear turns. Excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) of variable amplitude (1-35 mV) were found with 10-90% rise times of about 1 ms and time constants of decay of about 5 ms at room temperature. Current-voltage relations recorded in afferent dendrites revealed I(h). The pharmacological profile and reversal potential (-45 mV) indicated that I(h) is mediated by hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated cation (HCN) channels. The HCN channel subunits HCN1, HCN2, and HCN4 were found to be expressed in afferent dendrites using immunolabeling. Raising intracellular cAMP levels sped up the activation kinetics, increased the magnitude of I(h) and shifted the half activation voltage (V(half)) to more positive values (-104 +/- 3 to -91 +/- 2 mV). Blocking I(h) with 50 microM ZD7288 resulted in hyperpolarization of the resting membrane potential (approximately 4 mV) and slowing the decay of the EPSP by 47%, suggesting that I(h) is active at rest and shortens EPSPs, thereby potentially improving rapid and reliable signaling at this first synapse in the auditory pathway.

PMID:
20220080
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2867566
Free PMC Article
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