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: Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience have led to the awareness that we should revise our traditional mode of thinking and studying the CNS, i.e. by isolating the privileged network of "intelligent" synaptic contacts. We may instead need to contemplate all the variegate communications occurring between the different neural cell types, and centrally involving the astrocytes. Basically, it appears that a single astrocyte should be considered as a core that receives and integrates information from thousands of synapses, other glial cells and the blood vessels. In turn, it generates complex outputs that control the neural circuitry and coordinate it with the local microcirculation. Astrocytes thus emerge as the possible fulcrum of the functional homeostasis of the healthy CNS. Yet, evidence indicates that the bridging properties of the astrocytes can change in parallel with, or as a result of, the morphological, biochemical and functional alterations these cells undergo upon injury or disease. As a consequence, they have the potential to transform from supportive friends and interactive partners for neurons into noxious foes. In this review, we summarize the currently available knowledge on the contribution of astrocytes to the functioning of the CNS and what goes wrong in various pathological conditions, with a particular focus on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and ischemia. The observations described convincingly demonstrate that the development and progression of several neurological disorders involve the de-regulation of a finely tuned interplay between multiple cell populations. Thus, it seems that a better understanding of the mechanisms governing the integrated communication and detrimental responses of the astrocytes as well as their impact towards the homeostasis and performance of the CNS is fundamental to open novel therapeutic perspectives. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.Progress in Neurobiology 04/2015; 29. DOI:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2015.04.003 · 10.30 Impact Factor
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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 · 6.03 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The thalamus plays important roles as a relay station for sensory information in the central nervous system (CNS). Although thalamic glial cells participate in this activity, little is known about their properties. In this study, we characterized the formation of coupled networks between astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the murine ventrobasal thalamus and compared these properties with those in the hippocampus and cortex. Biocytin filling of individual astrocytes or oligodendrocytes revealed large panglial networks in all 3 gray matter regions. Combined analyses of mice with cell type-specific deletion of connexins (Cxs), semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and western blotting showed that Cx30 is the dominant astrocytic Cx in the thalamus. Many thalamic astrocytes even lack expression of Cx43, while in the hippocampus astrocytic coupling is dominated by Cx43. Deletion of Cx30 and Cx47 led to complete loss of panglial coupling, which was restored when one allele of either Cxs was present. Immunohistochemistry revealed a unique antigen profile of thalamic glia and identified an intermediate cell type expressing both Olig2 and Cx43. Our findings further the emerging concept of glial heterogeneity across brain regions.Cerebral Cortex 07/2014; DOI:10.1093/cercor/bhu157 · 8.31 Impact Factor