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Variability in the subcellular distribution of ion channels increases neuronal diversity.

Zoltan Nusser

Trends Neurosci., 2009 May , 32, 267-74

The exact location of an ion channel on the axo-somato-dendritic surface of a nerve cell crucially affects its functional impact. Recent high-resolution immunolocalization experiments examining the distribution of GABA and glutamate receptors, voltage-gated potassium and sodium channels and hyperpolarization-activated mixed cation (HCN) channels clearly demonstrate the lack of simple rules concerning their subcellular distribution. For example, the density of HCN1 subunits in pyramidal cells increases 60-fold from soma to distal dendrites but is uniform over the somato-dendritic surface of olfactory bulb external tufted cells and is highest in the axon of cortical and cerebellar basket cells. Such findings highlight the necessity of determining the precise subcellular location and density of each ion channel in every cell type. Here, I suggest that variations in the subcellular distribution of ion channels are previously unrecognized means of increasing neuronal diversity and, thus, the computational power of the brain.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19299025