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J Neurophysiol. 2016 Apr;115(4):1836-59. doi: 10.1152/jn.01077.2015. Epub 2016 Jan 13.

KV1 channels identified in rodent myelinated axons, linked to Cx29 in innermost myelin: support for electrically active myelin in mammalian saltatory conduction.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; Program in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; and.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado;
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


Saltatory conduction in mammalian myelinated axons was thought to be well understood before recent discoveries revealed unexpected subcellular distributions and molecular identities of the K(+)-conductance pathways that provide for rapid axonal repolarization. In this study, we visualize, identify, localize, quantify, and ultrastructurally characterize axonal KV1.1/KV1.2 channels in sciatic nerves of rodents. With the use of light microscopic immunocytochemistry and freeze-fracture replica immunogold labeling electron microscopy, KV1.1/KV1.2 channels are localized to three anatomically and compositionally distinct domains in the internodal axolemmas of large myelinated axons, where they form densely packed "rosettes" of 9-nm intramembrane particles. These axolemmal KV1.1/KV1.2 rosettes are precisely aligned with and ultrastructurally coupled to connexin29 (Cx29) channels, also in matching rosettes, in the surrounding juxtaparanodal myelin collars and along the inner mesaxon. As >98% of transmembrane proteins large enough to represent ion channels in these specialized domains, ∼500,000 KV1.1/KV1.2 channels define the paired juxtaparanodal regions as exclusive membrane domains for the voltage-gated K(+)conductance that underlies rapid axonal repolarization in mammals. The 1:1 molecular linkage of KV1 channels to Cx29 channels in the apposed juxtaparanodal collars, plus their linkage to an additional 250,000-400,000 Cx29 channels along each inner mesaxon in every large-diameter myelinated axon examined, supports previously proposed K(+)conductance directly from juxtaparanodal axoplasm into juxtaparanodal myeloplasm in mammalian axons. With neither Cx29 protein nor myelin rosettes detectable in frog myelinated axons, these data showing axon-to-myelin linkage by abundant KV1/Cx29 channels in rodent axons support renewed consideration of an electrically active role for myelin in increasing both saltatory conduction velocity and maximum propagation frequency in mammalian myelinated axons.


Cx29 channels; KV1.1/KV1.2 channels; inner mesaxon; juxtamesaxon; juxtaparanode

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