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J Neurophysiol. 1999 Dec;82(6):3006-20.

Computational analysis of action potential initiation in mitral cell soma and dendrites based on dual patch recordings.

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Section of Neurobiology, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


In olfactory mitral cells, dual patch recordings show that the site of action potential initiation can shift between soma and distal primary dendrite and that the shift is dependent on the location and strength of electrode current injection. We have analyzed the mechanisms underlying this shift, using a model of the mitral cell that takes advantage of the constraints available from the two recording sites. Starting with homogeneous Hodgkin-Huxley-like Na(+)-K(+) channel distribution in the soma-dendritic region and much higher sodium channel density in the axonal region, the model's channel kinetics and density were adjusted by a fitting algorithm so that the model response was virtually identical to the experimental data. The combination of loading effects and much higher sodium channel density in the axon relative to the soma-dendritic region results in significantly lower "voltage threshold" for action potential initiation in the axon; the axon therefore fires first unless the voltage gradient in the primary dendrite is steep enough for it to reach its higher threshold. The results thus provide a quantitative explanation for the stimulus strength and position dependence of the site of action potential initiation in the mitral cell.

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