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Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Apr;21(8):2073-82.

Preferential localization of the hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated cation channel subunit HCN1 in basket cell terminals of the rat cerebellum.

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Facultad de Medicina, Centro Regional de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Campus Biosanitario, Avda. de Almansa s/n, 02006 Albacete, Spain.


Hyperpolarization-activated and cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels are involved in the control of neuronal excitability and plasticity. In this study, we used immunoblotting and immunohistochemical techniques to reveal the developmental expression and subcellular distribution of the HCN1 subunit in the cerebellar cortex. During postnatal development, the spatio-temporal expression of HCN1 correlated well with the morphological events occurring during the ontogenesis of cerebellar interneurons. Using immunoblotting techniques, HCN1 was weakly detected during the first postnatal week and continued to increase throughout postnatal development, peaking at postnatal day (P)15. At the light-microscopic level, HCN1 immunoreactivity was very weak until P7 whereas from P10-12 to adulthood it was strongly detected in the lower third of the molecular layer and in the Purkinje cell layer. HCN1 was present in axons running through the molecular layer and in the pericellular basket around Purkinje cells at P12, but in the periaxonal plexus (the pinceau) surrounding their initial segment only after P15. Using immunofluorescence, HCN1 colocalized with GAD65 and synaptophysin, demonstrating that the subunit was present in inhibitory axons and axon terminals. At the electron-microscopic level, in adulthood, HCN1 immunoparticles were detected at postsynaptic sites in basket and Purkinje cells but most immunoparticles were found at presynaptic sites in basket cell axons and in terminals. In the axon terminals, the distribution of HCN1 was relatively uniform along the extrasynaptic plasma membrane; this was confirmed using quantitative techniques. The present findings suggest that HCN1 channels may provide a significant route for modulating co-ordinated cerebellar synaptic transmission through basket cells.

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