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J Neurophysiol. 2013 May;109(10):2528-41. doi: 10.1152/jn.00127.2012. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

Iberiotoxin-sensitive and -insensitive BK currents in Purkinje neuron somata.

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Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA.


Purkinje cells have specialized intrinsic ionic conductances that generate high-frequency action potentials. Disruptions of their Ca or Ca-activated K (KCa) currents correlate with altered firing patterns in vitro and impaired motor behavior in vivo. To examine the properties of somatic KCa currents, we recorded voltage-clamped KCa currents in Purkinje cell bodies isolated from postnatal day 17-21 mouse cerebellum. Currents were evoked by endogenous Ca influx with approximately physiological Ca buffering. Purkinje somata expressed voltage-activated, Cd-sensitive KCa currents with iberiotoxin (IBTX)-sensitive (>100 nS) and IBTX-insensitive (>75 nS) components. IBTX-sensitive currents activated and partially inactivated within milliseconds. Rapid, incomplete macroscopic inactivation was also evident during 50- or 100-Hz trains of 1-ms depolarizations. In contrast, IBTX-insensitive currents activated more slowly and did not inactivate. These currents were insensitive to the small- and intermediate-conductance KCa channel blockers apamin, scyllatoxin, UCL1684, bicuculline methiodide, and TRAM-34, but were largely blocked by 1 mM tetraethylammonium. The underlying channels had single-channel conductances of ∼150 pS, suggesting that the currents are carried by IBTX-resistant (β4-containing) large-conductance KCa (BK) channels. IBTX-insensitive currents were nevertheless increased by small-conductance KCa channel agonists EBIO, chlorzoxazone, and CyPPA. During trains of brief depolarizations, IBTX-insensitive currents flowed during interstep intervals, and the accumulation of interstep outward current was enhanced by EBIO. In current clamp, EBIO slowed spiking, especially during depolarizing current injections. The two components of BK current in Purkinje somata likely contribute differently to spike repolarization and firing rate. Moreover, augmentation of BK current may partially underlie the action of EBIO and chlorzoxazone to alleviate disrupted Purkinje cell firing associated with genetic ataxias.


EBIO; Kca; SK; action potential; calcium-activated potassium; cerebellum; voltage-clamp

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