PubMed 23392672

Referenced in Channelpedia wiki pages of: none

Automatically associated channels: Kir4.1 , Kir6.2 , Slo1

Title: Oligodendrocyte precursor cells are accurate sensors of local K+ in mature gray matter.

Authors: Paloma P Maldonado, Mateo Vélez-Fort, Françoise Levavasseur, María Cecilia Angulo

Journal, date & volume: J. Neurosci., 2013 Feb 6 , 33, 2432-42

PubMed link:

Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) are the major source of myelinating oligodendrocytes during development. These progenitors are highly abundant at birth and persist in the adult where they are distributed throughout the brain. The large abundance of OPCs after completion of myelination challenges their unique role as progenitors in the healthy adult brain. Here we show that adult OPCs of the barrel cortex sense fine extracellular K(+) increases generated by neuronal activity, a property commonly assigned to differentiated astrocytes rather than to progenitors. Biophysical, pharmacological, and single-cell RT-PCR analyses demonstrate that this ability of OPCs establishes itself progressively through the postnatal upregulation of Kir4.1 K(+) channels. In animals with advanced cortical myelination, extracellular stimulation of layer V axons induces slow K(+) currents in OPCs, which amplitude correlates with presynaptic action potential rate. Moreover, using paired recordings, we demonstrate that the discharge of a single neuron can be detected by nearby adult OPCs, indicating that these cells are strategically located to detect local changes in extracellular K(+) concentration during physiological neuronal activity. These results identify a novel unitary neuron-OPC connection, which transmission does not rely on neurotransmitter release and appears late in development. Beyond their abundance in the mature brain, the postnatal emergence of a physiological response of OPCs to neuronal network activity supports the view that in the adult these cells are not progenitors only.