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Hear Res. 2011 Sep;279(1-2):32-42. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2011.03.004. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

Potassium channel modulation and auditory processing.

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Department of Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06520-8066, USA.


For accurate processing of auditory information, neurons in auditory brainstem nuclei have to fire at high rates with high temporal accuracy. These two requirements can only be fulfilled when the intrinsic electrical properties of these neurons are matched to the pattern of incoming synaptic stimulation. This review article focuses on three families of potassium channels that are critical to shaping the firing pattern and accuracy of neurons. Changes in the auditory environment can trigger very rapid changes in the phosphorylation state of potassium channels in auditory brainstem nuclei. Longer lasting changes in the auditory environment produce changes in the rates of translation and transcription of genes encoding these channels. A key protein that plays a role in setting the overall sensitivity of the auditory system to sound stimuli is FMRP (Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein), which binds channels directly and also regulates the translation of mRNAs for the channels.

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