An unexpected role for TASK-3 potassium channels in network oscillations with implications for sleep mechanisms and anesthetic action.

Biophysics Section, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, South Kensington, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 09/2009; 106(41):17546-51. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0907228106
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT TASK channels are acid-sensitive and anesthetic-activated members of the family of two-pore-domain potassium channels. We have made the surprising discovery that the genetic ablation of TASK-3 channels eliminates a specific type of theta oscillation in the cortical electroencephalogram (EEG) resembling type II theta (4-9 Hz), which is thought to be important in processing sensory stimuli before initiating motor activity. In contrast, ablation of TASK-1 channels has no effect on theta oscillations. Despite the absence of type II theta oscillations in the TASK-3 knockout (KO) mice, the related type I theta, which has certain neuronal pathways in common and is involved in exploratory behavior, is unaffected. In addition to the absence of type II theta oscillations, the TASK-3 KO animals show marked alterations in both anesthetic sensitivity and natural sleep behavior. Their sensitivity to halothane, a potent activator of TASK channels, is greatly reduced, whereas their sensitivity to cyclopropane, which does not activate TASK-3 channels, is unchanged. The TASK-3 KO animals exhibit a slower progression from their waking to sleeping states and, during their sleeping period, their sleep episodes as well as their REM theta oscillations are more fragmented. These results imply a previously unexpected role for TASK-3 channels in the cellular mechanisms underlying these behaviors and suggest that endogenous modulators of these channels may regulate theta oscillations.

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    ABSTRACT: Tandem two-pore potassium channels (K2Ps) have widespread expression in the central nervous system and periphery where they contribute to background membrane conductance. Some general anaesthetics promote the opening of some of these channels, enhancing potassium currents and thus producing a reduction in neuronal excitability that contributes to the transition to unconsciousness. Similarly, these channels may be recruited during the normal sleep-wake cycle as downstream effectors of wake-promoting neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline, histamine and acetylcholine. These transmitters promote K2P channel closure and thus an increase in neuronal excitability. Our understanding of the roles of these channels in sleep and anaesthesia has been largely informed by the study of mouse K2P knockout lines and what is currently predicted by in vitro electrophysiology and channel structure and gating.
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