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Variable channel expression in identified single and electrically coupled neurons in different animals.

David J Schulz, Jean-Marc Goaillard, Eve Marder

Nat. Neurosci., 2006 Mar , 9, 356-62

It is often assumed that all neurons of the same cell type have identical intrinsic properties, both within an animal and between animals. We exploited the large size and small number of unambiguously identifiable neurons in the crab stomatogastric ganglion to test this assumption at the level of channel mRNA expression and membrane currents (measured in voltage-clamp experiments). In lateral pyloric (LP) neurons, we saw strong correlations between measured current and the abundance of Shal and BK-KCa mRNAs (encoding the Shal-family voltage-gated potassium channel and large-conductance calcium-activated potassium channel, respectively). We also saw two- to fourfold interanimal variability for three potassium currents and their mRNA expression. Measurements of channel expression in the two electrically coupled pyloric dilator (PD) neurons showed significant interanimal variability, but copy numbers for IH (encoding the hyperpolarization-activated, inward-current channel) and Shal mRNA in the two PD neurons from the same crab were similar, suggesting that the regulation of some currents may be shared in electrically coupled neurons.