PubMed 10498669

Title: Biophysical properties and slow voltage-dependent inactivation of a sustained sodium current in entorhinal cortex layer-II principal neurons: a whole-cell and single-channel study.

Authors: J Magistretti, A Alonso

Journal, date & volume: J. Gen. Physiol., 1999 Oct , 114, 491-509

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The functional and biophysical properties of a sustained, or "persistent," Na(+) current (I(NaP)) responsible for the generation of subthreshold oscillatory activity in entorhinal cortex layer-II principal neurons (the "stellate cells") were investigated with whole-cell, patch-clamp experiments. Both acutely dissociated cells and slices derived from adult rat entorhinal cortex were used. I(NaP), activated by either slow voltage ramps or long-lasting depolarizing pulses, was prominent in both isolated and, especially, in situ neurons. The analysis of the gating properties of the transient Na(+) current (I(NaT)) in the same neurons revealed that the resulting time-independent "window" current (I(NaTW)) had both amplitude and voltage dependence not compatible with those of the observed I(NaP), thus implying the existence of an alternative mechanism of persistent Na(+)-current generation. The tetrodotoxin-sensitive Na(+) currents evoked by slow voltage ramps decreased in amplitude with decreasing ramp slopes, thus suggesting that a time-dependent inactivation was taking place during ramp depolarizations. When ramps were preceded by increasingly positive, long-lasting voltage prepulses, I(NaP) was progressively, and eventually completely, inactivated. The V(1/2) of I(NaP) steady state inactivation was approximately -49 mV. The time dependence of the development of the inactivation was also studied by varying the duration of the inactivating prepulse: time constants ranging from approximately 6.8 to approximately 2.6 s, depending on the voltage level, were revealed. Moreover, the activation and inactivation properties of I(NaP) were such as to generate, within a relatively broad membrane-voltage range, a really persistent window current (I(NaPW)). Significantly, I(NaPW) was maximal at about the same voltage level at which subthreshold oscillations are expressed by the stellate cells. Indeed, at -50 mV, the I(NaPW) was shown to contribute to >80% of the persistent Na(+) current that sustains the subthreshold oscillations, whereas only the remaining part can be attributed to a classical Hodgkin-Huxley I(NaTW). Finally, the single-channel bases of I(NaP) slow inactivation and I(NaPW) generation were investigated in cell-attached experiments. Both phenomena were found to be underlain by repetitive, relatively prolonged late channel openings that appeared to undergo inactivation in a nearly irreversible manner at high depolarization levels (-10 mV), but not at more negative potentials (-40 mV).