Analysis of Astroglial K+ Channel Expression in the Developing Hippocampus Reveals a Predominant Role of the Kir4.1 Subunit
ABSTRACT Astrocytes in different brain regions display variable functional properties. In the hippocampus, astrocytes predominantly express time- and voltage-independent currents, but the underlying ion channels are not well defined. This ignorance is partly attributable to abundant intercellular coupling of these cells through gap junctions, impeding quantitative analyses of intrinsic membrane properties. Moreover, distinct types of cells with astroglial properties coexist in a given brain area, a finding that confused previous analyses. In the present study, we investigated expression of inwardly rectifying (Kir) and two-pore-domain (K2P) K+ channels in astrocytes, which are thought to be instrumental in the regulation of K+ homeostasis. Freshly isolated astrocytes were used to improve space-clamp conditions and allow for quantitative assessment of functional parameters. Patch-clamp recordings were combined with immunocytochemistry, Western blot analysis, and semiquantitative transcript analysis. Comparative measurements were performed in different CA1 subregions of astrocyte-targeted transgenic mice. While confirming weak Ba2+ sensitivity in situ, our data demonstrate that in freshly isolated astrocytes, the main proportion of membrane currents is sensitive to micromolar Ba2+ concentrations. Upregulation of Kir4.1 transcripts and protein during the first 10 postnatal days was accompanied by a fourfold increase in astrocyte inward current density. Hippocampal astrocytes from Kir4.1-/- mice lacked Ba2+-sensitive currents. In addition, we report functional expression of K2P channels of the TREK subfamily (TREK1, TREK2), which mediate astroglial outward currents. Together, our findings demonstrate that Kir4.1 constitutes the pivotal K+ channel subunit and that superposition of currents through Kir4.1 and TREK channels underlies the "passive" current pattern of hippocampal astrocytes.
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ABSTRACT: Memory formation in the brain is thought to rely on the remodeling of synaptic connections which eventually results in neural network rewiring. This remodeling is likely to involve ultrathin astroglial protrusions which often occur in the immediate vicinity of excitatory synapses. The phenomenology, cellular mechanisms, and causal relationships of such astroglial restructuring remain, however, poorly understood. This is in large part because monitoring and probing of the underpinning molecular machinery on the scale of nanoscopic astroglial compartments remains a challenge. Here we briefly summarize the current knowledge regarding the cellular organisation of astroglia in the synaptic microenvironment and discuss molecular mechanisms potentially involved in use-dependent astroglial morphogenesis. We also discuss recent observations concerning morphological astroglial plasticity, the respective monitoring methods, and some of the newly emerging techniques that might help with conceptual advances in the area. GLIA 2015. © 2015 The Authors. Glia Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.Glia 03/2015; DOI:10.1002/glia.22821 · 5.47 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Abstract Neuronal activity results in release of K(+) into the extracellular space of the central nervous system. If the excess K(+) is allowed to accumulate, neuronal firing will be compromised by the ensuing neuronal membrane depolarization. The surrounding glial cells are involved in clearing K(+) from the extracellular space by molecular mechanism(s), the identity of which have been a matter of controversy for over half a century. Kir4.1-mediated spatial buffering of K(+) has been promoted as a major contributor to K(+) removal although its quantitative and temporal contribution has remained undefined. We discuss the biophysical and experimental challenges regarding determination of the contribution of Kir4.1 to extracellular K(+) management during neuronal activity. It is concluded that 1) the geometry of the experimental preparation is crucial for detection of Kir4.1-mediated spatial buffering and 2) Kir4.1 enacts spatial buffering of K(+) during but not after neuronal activity.Channels (Austin, Tex.) 10/2014; 8(6). DOI:10.4161/19336950.2014.970448 · 2.32 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Members of the two-pore domain K(+) channel (K2P) family are increasingly recognized as being potential targets for therapeutic drugs and could play a role in the diagnosis and treatment of neurologic disorders. Their broad and diverse expression pattern in pleiotropic cell types, importance in cellular function, unique biophysical properties, and sensitivity toward pathophysiologic parameters represent the basis for their involvement in disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). This review will focus on multiple sclerosis (MS) and stroke, as there is growing evidence for the involvement of K2P channels in these two major CNS disorders. In MS, TASK1-3 channels are expressed on T lymphocytes and are part of a signaling network regulating Ca(2+)- dependent pathways that are mandatory for T cell activation, differentiation, and effector functions. In addition, TASK1 channels are involved in neurodegeneration, resulting in autoimmune attack of CNS cells. On the blood-brain barrier, TREK1 channels regulate immune cell trafficking under autoinflammatory conditions. Cerebral ischemia shares some pathophysiologic similarities with MS, including hypoxia and extracellular acidosis. On a cellular level, K2P channels can have both proapoptotic and antiapoptotic effects, either promoting neurodegeneration or protecting neurons from ischemic cell death. TASK1 and TREK1 channels have a neuroprotective effect on stroke development, whereas TASK2 channels have a detrimental effect on neuronal survival under ischemic conditions. Future research in preclinical models is needed to provide a more detailed understanding of the contribution of K2P channel family members to neurologic disorders, before translation to the clinic is an option.Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology 12/2014; DOI:10.1007/s00424-014-1664-2 · 3.07 Impact Factor