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Erg potassium currents of neonatal mouse Purkinje cells exhibit fast gating kinetics and are inhibited by mGluR1 activation.

Dragos Niculescu, Wiebke Hirdes, Sönke Hornig, Olaf Pongs, Jürgen R Schwarz

J. Neurosci., 2013 Oct 16 , 33, 16729-40

We investigated the subthreshold properties of an erg (ether-à-go-go-related gene) K(+) current in Purkinje cells of neonatal mice. Action potentials recorded from Purkinje cells in cerebellar slices exhibited a decreased threshold potential and increased frequency of spontaneous and repetitive activity following application of the specific erg channel blocker E-4031. Accommodation was absent before and after drug application. The erg current of these Purkinje cells activated at membrane potentials near -60 mV and exhibited fast gating kinetics. The functional importance of fast gating subthreshold erg channels in Purkinje cells was corroborated by comparing the results of action potential clamp experiments with erg1a, erg1b, erg2, and erg3 currents heterologously expressed in HEK cells. Computer simulations based on a NEURON model of Purkinje cells only reproduced the effects of the native erg current when an erg channel conductance like that of erg3 was included. Experiments with subunit-sensitive toxins (BeKm-1, APETx1) indicated that erg channels in Purkinje cells are presumably mediated by heteromeric erg1/erg3 or modified erg1 channels. Following mGluR1 activation, the native erg current was reduced by ∼70%, brought about by reduction of the maximal erg current and a shift of the activation curve to more positive potentials. The Purkinje cell erg current contributed to the sustained current component of the biphasic mGluR1 response. Activation of mGluR1 by the agonist 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycol increased Purkinje cell excitability, similar to that induced by E-4031. The results indicated that erg currents can be modulated and may contribute to the mGluR1-induced plasticity changes in Purkinje cells.