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Spontaneous seizures in Kcna1-null mice lacking voltage-gated Kv1.1 channels activate Fos expression in select limbic circuits.

Nicole M Gautier, Edward Glasscock

J. Neurochem., 2015 Oct , 135, 157-64

Mice lacking voltage-gated Kv1.1 channels as a result of deletion of the Kcna1 gene are an extensively utilized genetic model of human epilepsy and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy because of their frequent seizures and genotypic-phenotypic similarity to the human condition. Ictal behaviors, electrophysiological recordings, and gene expression studies suggest limbic circuits are critical for epilepsy in Kcna1-null mice, but the exact brain networks recruited by seizures remain unknown. In this study, Fos protein expression patterns were used to map limbic brain regions with increased neuronal activity at baseline and during spontaneous seizures in Kcna1-null mice by comparing seizing and non-seizing knockouts and wild-type controls. Basal Fos levels were unchanged in non-seizing knockout mice compared to wild types for all brain regions examined except the dentate gyrus granule cell layer which exhibited a significant decrease in Fos-positive cells. Following seizures, Kcna1-null brains exhibited significantly increased Fos labeling in the basolateral amygdala and the dentate hilus region, but not in other principal cell layers of the hippocampal formation. The selective Fos activation in the amygdala following seizures suggests that extra hippocampal limbic circuits may be critically involved with seizure generation or spread in Kcna1-null mice. Fos protein expression patterns were analyzed using immunohistochemistry to provide the first map of brain regions recruited by spontaneous seizures in mice lacking Kv1.1 channels, an extensively used genetic model of epilepsy. Seizures significantly increased Fos expression in the amygdala and hilus by about fourfold, suggesting an important contribution by extrahippocampal networks to epilepsy in this model.