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Expression pattern of the ether-a-go-go-related (ERG) family proteins in the adult mouse central nervous system: evidence for coassembly of different subunits.

Leonardo Guasti, Emanuele Cilia, Olivia Crociani, Giovanna Hofmann, Simone Polvani, Andrea Becchetti, Enzo Wanke, Filippo Tempia, Annarosa Arcangeli

J. Comp. Neurol., 2005 Oct 17 , 491, 157-74

Voltage-dependent K+ channels are the main determinants in controlling cellular excitability within the central nervous system. Among voltage-dependent K+ channels, the ERG subfamily is deeply involved in the control of cellular excitability, both in mammals and in invertebrates. ERG channels are encoded by different genes: the erg1 gene, which can generate two alternative transcripts (erg1a and erg1b), erg2 and erg3. The aim of the present study was to determine the expression pattern and cellular localization of ERG proteins (ERG1, ERG2, and ERG3) in the mouse CNS, differentiating, for the first time, the ERG1A and ERG1B isoforms. To this purpose, novel specific antibodies were raised against the various channel proteins and their specificity and immunoreactivity tested. It emerged that: 1) all the erg genes were indeed translated in neuronal tissue; 2) ERG proteins distribution in the mouse CNS often overlapped, and only in specific areas each ERG protein showed a distinct pattern of expression; and 3) ERG proteins were generally expressed in neuronal soma, but dendritic and/or white matter labeling could be detected in specific areas. The finding that ERG proteins often have an overlapping expression suggests that neuronal ERG currents could be determined, at least in part, by heterotetrameric ERG channels. This suggestion is demonstrated to occur for ERG1A/ERG1B by showing that the two isoforms coassemble in mouse brain.