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J Neurophysiol. 2007 Mar;97(3):1931-40. Epub 2007 Jan 10.

Functional roles of Kv1 channels in neocortical pyramidal neurons.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Tennessee, 855 Monroe Avenue, Memphis, TN 38163, USA.


Pyramidal neurons from layers II/III of somatosensory and motor cortex express multiple Kv1 alpha-subunits and a current sensitive to block by alpha-dendrotoxin (alpha-DTX). We examined functional roles of native Kv1 channels in these cells using current-clamp recordings in brain slices and current- and voltage-clamp recordings in dissociated cells. alpha-DTX caused a significant negative shift in voltage threshold for action potentials (APs) and reduced rheobase. Correspondingly, a ramp-voltage protocol revealed that the alpha-DTX-sensitive current activated at subthreshold voltages. AP width at threshold increased with successive APs during repetitive firing. The steady-state threshold width for a given firing rate was similar in control and alpha-DTX, despite an initially broader AP in alpha-DTX. AP voltage threshold increased similarly during a train of spikes under control conditions and in the presence of alpha-DTX. alpha-DTX had no effect on input resistance or resting membrane potential and modest effects on the amplitude or width of a single AP. Accordingly, experiments using AP waveforms (APWs) as voltage protocols revealed that alpha-DTX-sensitive current peaked late during the AP repolarization phase. Application of alpha-DTX increased the rate of firing to intracellular current injection and increased gain (multiplicative effects), but did not alter spike-frequency adaptation. Consistent with these findings, voltage-clamp experiments revealed that the proportion of outward current sensitive to alpha-DTX was highest during the interval between two APWs, reflecting slow deactivation kinetics at -50 mV. Finally, alpha-DTX did not alter the selectivity of pyramidal neurons for DC versus time-varying stimuli.

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