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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46652. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046652. Epub 2012 Oct 3.

Ion channel gradients in the apical tuft region of CA1 pyramidal neurons.

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  • 1HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, Virginia, United States of America.


Dendritic ion channels play a critical role in shaping synaptic input and are fundamentally important for synaptic integration and plasticity. In the hippocampal region CA1, somato-dendritic gradients of AMPA receptors and the hyperpolarization-activated cation conductance (I(h)) counteract the effects of dendritic filtering on the amplitude, time-course, and temporal integration of distal Schaffer collateral (SC) synaptic inputs within stratum radiatum (SR). While ion channel gradients in CA1 distal apical trunk dendrites within SR have been well characterized, little is known about the patterns of ion channel expression in the distal apical tuft dendrites within stratum lacunosum moleculare (SLM) that receive distinct input from the entorhinal cortex via perforant path (PP) axons. Here, we measured local ion channels densities within these distal apical tuft dendrites to determine if the somato-dendritic gradients of I(h) and AMPA receptors extend into distal tuft dendrites. We also determined the densities of voltage-gated sodium channels and NMDA receptors. We found that the densities of AMPA receptors, I(h,) and voltage-gated sodium channels are similar in tuft dendrites in SLM when compared with distal apical dendrites in SR, while the ratio of NMDA receptors to AMPA receptors increases in tuft dendrites relative to distal apical dendrites within SR. These data indicate that the somato-dendritic gradients of I(h) and AMPA receptors in apical dendrites do not extend into the distal tuft, and the relative densities of voltage-gated sodium channels and NMDA receptors are poised to support nonlinear integration of correlated SC and PP input.

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