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Neuron. 2006 Oct 19;52(2):321-33.

CLC-3 channels modulate excitatory synaptic transmission in hippocampal neurons.

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Department of Neurobiology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


It is well established that ligand-gated chloride flux across the plasma membrane modulates neuronal excitability. We find that a voltage-dependent Cl(-) conductance increases neuronal excitability in immature rodents as well, enhancing the time course of NMDA receptor-mediated miniature excitatory postsynaptic potentials (mEPSPs). This Cl(-) conductance is activated by CaMKII, is electrophysiologically identical to the CaMKII-activated CLC-3 conductance in nonneuronal cells, and is absent in clc-3(-/-) mice. Systematically decreasing [Cl(-)](i) to mimic postnatal [Cl(-)](i) regulation progressively decreases the amplitude and decay time constant of spontaneous mEPSPs. This Cl(-)-dependent change in synaptic strength is absent in clc-3(-/-) mice. Using surface biotinylation, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and coimmunoprecipitation studies, we find that CLC-3 channels are localized on the plasma membrane, at postsynaptic sites, and in association with NMDA receptors. This is the first demonstration that a voltage-dependent chloride conductance modulates neuronal excitability. By increasing postsynaptic potentials in a Cl(-) dependent fashion, CLC-3 channels regulate neuronal excitability postsynaptically in immature neurons.

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