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J Neurosci. 2017 Jan 18;37(3):576-586. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1425-16.2016.

Epilepsy-Associated KCNQ2 Channels Regulate Multiple Intrinsic Properties of Layer 2/3 Pyramidal Neurons.

Author information

1
Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269.
2
Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269 anastasios.tzingounis@uconn.edu.

Abstract

KCNQ2 potassium channels are critical for normal brain function, as both loss-of-function and gain-of-function KCNQ2 variants can lead to various forms of neonatal epilepsy. Despite recent progress, the full spectrum of consequences as a result of KCNQ2 dysfunction in neocortical pyramidal neurons is still unknown. Here, we report that conditional ablation of Kcnq2 from mouse neocortex leads to hyperexcitability of layer 2/3 (L2/3) pyramidal neurons, exhibiting an increased input resistance and action potential frequency, as well as a reduced medium afterhyperpolarization (mAHP), a conductance partly mediated by KCNQ2 channels. Importantly, we show that introducing the KCNQ2 loss-of-function variant KCNQ2I205V into L2/3 pyramidal neurons using in utero electroporation also results in a hyperexcitable phenotype similar to the conditional knock-out. KCNQ2I205V has a right-shifted conductance-to-voltage relationship, suggesting loss of KCNQ2 channel activity at subthreshold membrane potentials is sufficient to drive large changes in L2/3 pyramidal neuronal excitability even in the presence of an intact mAHP. We also found that the changes in excitability following Kcnq2 ablation are accompanied by alterations at action potential properties, including action potential amplitude in Kcnq2-null neurons. Importantly, partial inhibition of Nav1.6 channels was sufficient to counteract the hyperexcitability of Kcnq2-null neurons. Therefore, our work shows that loss of KCNQ2 channels alters the intrinsic neuronal excitability and action potential properties of L2/3 pyramidal neurons, and identifies Nav1.6 as a new potential molecular target to reduce excitability in patients with KCNQ2 encephalopathy.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT:

KCNQ2 channels are critical for the development of normal brain function, as KCNQ2 variants could lead to epileptic encephalopathy. However, the role of KCNQ2 channels in regulating the properties of neocortical neurons is largely unexplored. Here, we find that Kcnq2 ablation or loss-of-function at subthreshold membrane potentials leads to increased neuronal excitability of neocortical layer 2/3 (L2/3) pyramidal neurons. We also demonstrate that Kcnq2 ablation unexpectedly leads to a larger action potential amplitude. Importantly, we propose the Nav1.6 channel as a new molecular target for patients with KCNQ2 encephalopathy, as partial inhibition of these channels counteracts the increased L2/3 pyramidal neuron hyperexcitability of Kcnq2-null neurons.

KEYWORDS:

KCNQ2; KCNQ3; epilepsy; potassium channels; sodium channels

PMID:
28100740
PMCID:
PMC5242407
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1425-16.2016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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