The action potential (AP) is a fundamental feature of excitable cells that serves as the basis for long-distance signaling in the nervous system. There is considerable diversity in the appearance of APs and the underlying repolarization mechanisms in different neuronal types (reviewed in Bean BP. Nat Rev Neurosci 8: 451–465, 2007), including among pyramidal cell subtypes. In the present work, we used specific pharmacological blockers to test for contributions of Kv1, Kv2, or Kv4 channels to repolarization of single APs in two genetically defined subpopulations of pyramidal cells in layer 5 of mouse somatosensory cortex (etv1 and glt) as well as pyramidal cells from layer 2/3. These three subtypes differ in AP properties (Groh A, Meyer HS, Schmidt EF, Heintz N, Sakmann B, Krieger P. Cereb Cortex 20: 826–836, 2010; Guan D, Armstrong WE, Foehring RC. J Neurophysiol 113: 2014–2032, 2015) as well as laminar position, morphology, and projection targets. We asked what the roles of Kv1, Kv2, and Kv4 channels are in AP repolarization and whether the underlying mechanisms are pyramidal cell subtype dependent. We found that Kv4 channels are critically involved in repolarizing neocortical pyramidal cells. There are also pyramidal cell subtype-specific differences in the role for Kv1 channels. Only Kv4 channels were involved in repolarizing the narrow APs of glt cells. In contrast, in etv1 cells and layer 2/3 cells, the broader APs are partially repolarized by Kv1 channels in addition to Kv4 channels. Consistent with their activation in the subthreshold range, Kv1 channels also regulate AP voltage threshold in all pyramidal cell subtypes.
- somatosensory cortex
- potassium channel
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