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Precise localization of the voltage-gated potassium channel subunits Kv3.1b and Kv3.3 revealed in the molecular layer of the rat cerebellar cortex by a pre-embedding immunogold method.

Nagore Puente, Juan Mendizabal-Zubiaga, Izaskun Elezgarai, Leire Reguero, Ianire Buceta, Pedro Grandes

Histochem. Cell Biol., 2010 Oct , 134, 403-9

A proper motor activity relies on a correct cerebellar function. The Kv3.1 and Kv3.3 voltage-gated potassium channels are key proteins involved in cerebellar function and dysfunction, as the lack of these causes severe motor deficits. Both channel subunits are coexpressed in granule cells and are rapidly activated at relatively positive potentials to support the generation of fast action potentials. However, the contribution of each subunit to the molecular architecture of the parallel fibers, the granule cell axons, is so far unknown. The goal of this study was to elucidate the relative distribution of Kv3.1b and Kv3.3 in specific compartments of the rat parallel fibers by using a pre-embedding immunocytochemical method for electron microscopy. Numerous Kv3.1b and Kv3.3 silver-intensified gold particles were associated with membranes of parallel fiber synaptic terminals and their intervaricose segments. Kv3.1b was found in about 85% of parallel fiber synaptic terminals and in about 47% of their intervaricose portions. However, only 28% of intervaricosities and 23% of parallel fiber presynaptic boutons were Kv3.3 immunopositive. The analysis also revealed that 54% of Purkinje cell dendritic spines localized Kv3.3. Although both potassium channel subunits share localization in the same presynaptic parallel fiber compartments, the present results with the method used indicate that there are a higher percentage of parallel fibers labeled for Kv3.1b than for Kv3.3, and that the labeling intensity for each subunit is higher in specific subcompartments analyzed than in others.