Firing patterns differ between subpopulations of vestibular primary afferent neurons. The role of sodium (NaV) channels in this diversity has not been investigated because NaV currents in rodent vestibular ganglion neurons (VGNs) were reported to be homogeneous, with the voltage dependence and tetrodotoxin (TTX) sensitivity of most neuronal NaV channels. RT-PCR experiments, however, indicated expression of diverse NaV channel subunits in the vestibular ganglion, motivating a closer look. Whole cell recordings from acutely dissociated postnatal VGNs confirmed that nearly all neurons expressed NaV currents that are TTX-sensitive and have activation midpoints between −30 and −40 mV. In addition, however, many VGNs expressed one of two other NaV currents. Some VGNs had a small current with properties consistent with NaV1.5 channels: low TTX sensitivity, sensitivity to divalent cation block, and a relatively negative voltage range, and some VGNs showed NaV1.5-like immunoreactivity. Other VGNs had a current with the properties of NaV1.8 channels: high TTX resistance, slow time course, and a relatively depolarized voltage range. In two NaV1.8 reporter lines, subsets of VGNs were labeled. VGNs with NaV1.8-like TTX-resistant current also differed from other VGNs in the voltage dependence of their TTX-sensitive currents and in the voltage threshold for spiking and action potential shape. Regulated expression of NaV channels in primary afferent neurons is likely to selectively affect firing properties that contribute to the encoding of vestibular stimuli.
- vestibular ganglion
- vestibular afferent
- sodium channel
- action potential
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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