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J Physiol. 1994 Aug 1;478 Pt 3:403-22.

Prevention of Ca(2+)-mediated action potentials in GABAergic local circuit neurones of rat thalamus by a transient K+ current.

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Abteilung für Neurophysiologie, Medizinische Fakultät, Ruhr-Universität, Bochum, Germany.


1. Neurones enzymatically dissociated from the rat dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) were identified as GABAergic local circuit interneurones and geniculocortical relay cells, based upon quantitative analysis of soma profiles, immunohistochemical detection of GABA or glutamic acid decarboxylase, and basic electrogenic behaviour. 2. During whole-cell current-clamp recording, isolated LGN neurones generated firing patterns resembling those in intact tissue, with the most striking difference relating to the presence in relay cells of a Ca2+ action potential with a low threshold of activation, capable of triggering fast spikes, and the absence of a regenerative Ca2+ response with a low threshold of activation in local circuit cells. 3. Whole-cell voltage-clamp experiments demonstrated that both classes of LGN neurones possess at least two voltage-dependent membrane currents which operate in a range of membrane potentials negative to the threshold for generation of Na(+)-K(+)-mediated spikes: the T-type Ca2+ current (IT) and an A-type K+ current (IA). Taking into account the differences in membrane surface area, the average size of IT was similar in the two types of neurones, and interneurones possessed a slightly larger A-conductance. 4. In local circuit neurones, the ranges of steady-state inactivation and activation of IT and IA were largely overlapping (VH = 81.1 vs. -82.8 mV), both currents activated at around -70 mV, and they rapidly increased in amplitude with further depolarization. In relay cells, the inactivation curve of IT was negatively shifted along the voltage axis by about 20 mV compared with that of IA (Vh = -86.1 vs. -69.2 mV), and the activation threshold for IT (at -80 mV) was 20 mV more negative than that for IA. In interneurones, the activation range of IT was shifted to values more positive than that in relay cells (Vh = -54.9 vs. -64.5 mV), whereas the activation range of IA was more negative (Vh = -25.2 vs. -14.5 mV). 5. Under whole-cell voltage-clamp conditions that allowed the combined activation of Ca2+ and K+ currents, depolarizing voltage steps from -110 mV evoked inward currents resembling IT in relay cells and small outward currents indicative of IA in local circuit neurones. After blockade of IA with 4-aminopyridine (4-AP), the same pulse protocol produced IT in both types of neurones. Under current clamp, 4-AP unmasked a regenerative membrane depolarization with a low threshold of activation capable of triggering fast spikes in local circuit neurones.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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