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J Physiol. 2012 Aug 15;590(16):3953-64. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.235820. Epub 2012 Jun 6.

M-type potassium channels modulate Schaffer collateral-CA1 glutamatergic synaptic transmission.

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Department of Neurology, Box 800394, University of Virginia-HSC, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


Previous studies have suggested that muscarinic receptor activation modulates glutamatergic transmission. M-type potassium channels mediate the effects of muscarinic activation in the hippocampus, and it has been proposed that they modulate glutamatergic synaptic transmission. We tested whether M1 muscarinic receptor activation enhances glutamatergic synaptic transmission via the inhibition of the M-type potassium channels that are present in Schaffer collateral axons and terminals. Miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) were recorded from CA1 pyramidal neurons. The M1 receptor agonist, NcN-A-343, increased the frequency of mEPSCs, but did not alter their amplitude. The M-channel blocker XE991 and its analogue linopirdine also increased the frequency of mEPSCs. Flupirtine, which opens M-channels, had the opposite effect. XE991 did not enhance mEPSCs frequency in a calcium-free external medium. Blocking P/Q- and N-type calcium channels abolished the effect of XE991 on mEPSCs. These data suggested that the inhibition of M-channels increases presynaptic calcium-dependent glutamate release in CA1 pyramidal neurons. The effects of these agents on the membrane potentials of presynaptic CA3 pyramidal neurons were studied using current clamp recordings; activation of M1 receptors and blocking M-channels depolarized neurons and increased burst firing. The input resistance of CA3 neurons was increased by the application of McN-A-343 and XE991; these effects were consistent with the closure of M-channels. Muscarinic activation inhibits M-channels in CA3 pyramidal neurons and its efferents – Schaffer collateral, which causes the depolarization, activates voltage-gated calcium channels, and ultimately elevates the intracellular calcium concentration to increase the release of glutamate on CA1 pyramidal neurons.

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