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Molecular dissection of I(A) in cortical pyramidal neurons reveals three distinct components encoded by Kv4.2, Kv4.3, and Kv1.4 alpha-subunits.

Aaron J Norris, Jeanne M Nerbonne

J. Neurosci., 2010 Apr 7 , 30, 5092-101

The rapidly activating and inactivating voltage-gated K(+) (Kv) current, I(A), is broadly expressed in neurons and is a key regulator of action potential repolarization, repetitive firing, backpropagation (into dendrites) of action potentials, and responses to synaptic inputs. Interestingly, results from previous studies on a number of neuronal cell types, including hippocampal, cortical, and spinal neurons, suggest that macroscopic I(A) is composed of multiple components and that each component is likely encoded by distinct Kv channel alpha-subunits. The goals of the experiments presented here were to test this hypothesis and to determine the molecular identities of the Kv channel alpha-subunits that generate I(A) in cortical pyramidal neurons. Combining genetic disruption of individual Kv alpha-subunit genes with pharmacological approaches to block Kv currents selectively, the experiments here revealed that Kv1.4, Kv4.2, and Kv4.3 alpha-subunits encode distinct components of I(A) that together underlie the macroscopic I(A) in mouse (male and female) cortical pyramidal neurons. Recordings from neurons lacking both Kv4.2 and Kv4.3 (Kv4.2(-/-)/Kv4.3(-/-)) revealed that, although Kv1.4 encodes a minor component of I(A), the Kv1.4-encoded current was found in all the Kv4.2(-/-)/Kv4.3(-/-) cortical pyramidal neurons examined. Of the cortical pyramidal neurons lacking both Kv4.2 and Kv1.4, 90% expressed a Kv4.3-encoded I(A) larger in amplitude than the Kv1.4-encoded component. The experimental findings also demonstrate that the targeted deletion of the individual Kv alpha-subunits encoding components of I(A) results in electrical remodeling that is Kv alpha-subunit specific.