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: Astrocytes are the predominant glial type in the central nervous system and play important roles in assisting neuronal function and network activity. Astrocytes exhibit complex signaling systems that are essential for their normal function and the homeostasis of the neural network. Altered signaling in astrocytes is closely associated with neurological and psychiatric diseases, suggesting tremendous therapeutic potential of these cells. To further understand astrocyte function in health and disease, it is important to study astrocytic signaling in vivo. In this review, we discuss molecular tools that enable the selective manipulation of astrocytic signaling, including the tools to selectively activate and inactivate astrocyte signaling in vivo. Lastly, we highlight a few tools in development that present strong potential for advancing our understanding of the role of astrocytes in physiology, behavior, and pathology.Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 04/2015; 9:144. DOI:10.3389/fncel.2015.00144 · 4.18 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by impaired ability to properly implement environmental stimuli that are essential to achieve a state of social and cultural exchange. Indeed, the main features of ASD are impairments of interpersonal relationships, verbal and non-verbal communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors. These aspects are often accompanied by several comorbidities such as motor delay, praxis impairment, gait abnormalities, insomnia, and above all epilepsy. Genetic analyses of autistic individuals uncovered deleterious mutations in several K+ channel types strengthening the notion that their intrinsic dysfunction may play a central etiologic role in ASD. However, indirect implication of K+ channels in ASD has been also reported. For instance, loss of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) results in K+ channels deregulation, network dysfunction and ASD-like cognitive and behavioral symptoms. This review provides an update on direct and indirect implications of K+ channels in ASDs. Owing to a mounting body of evidence associating a channelopathy pathogenesis to autism and showing that nearly 500 ion channel proteins are encoded by the human genome, we propose to classify ASDs - whose susceptibility is significantly enhanced by ion channels defects, either in a monogenic or multigenic condition - in a new category named “channelAutism Spectrum Disorder” (channelASD; cASD) and introduce a new taxonomy (e.g., Kvx.y-channelASD and likewise Navx.y-channelASD, Cavx.y-channelASD; etc.). This review also highlights some degree of clinical and genetic overlap between K+ channelASDs and K+ channelepsies, whereby such correlation suggests that a subcategory characterized by a channelASD-channelepsy phenotype may be distinguished. Ultimately, this overview aims to further understand the different clinical subgroups and help parse out the distinct biological basis of autism that are essential to establish patient-tailored treatments.Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 03/2015; 9:34. DOI:10.3389/fncel.2015.00034 · 4.18 Impact Factor