NKCC1 activity modulates formation of functional inhibitory synapses in cultured neocortical neurons.
ABSTRACT Intracellular Cl(-) concentration ([Cl(-)](i)) in immature neurons is higher than that expected for a passive distribution, therefore the equilibrium potential for chloride is more positive than the resting membrane potential, and the resulting GABA renders immature neurons depolarization. The higher [Cl(-)](i) in immature neurons is thought to be attributed to the uptake of Cl(-) mediated by NKCC1 (Na(+), K(+)-2Cl(-) cotransporter). Thus, a dysfunction of this transporter could affect synaptic development through a GABA(A) receptor-mediated pathway. To test this possibility, we examined the effects of a Cl(-)-uptake inhibitor on the development of synaptic activities of rat neocortical neurons in culture. Chronic treatment with bumetanide at 10 microM during the culture diminished the amplitude of synaptically-driven rhythmic depolarizing potentials (RDPs) in neurons and also decreased the frequency of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) but not of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs). Chronic treatment with bumetanide decreased vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT)-immunopositive particles without affecting paired-pulse ratio of evoked IPSCs (eIPSCs), indicating decrease in the number of functional GABAergic synapses. Acute treatment with bumetanide (10 microM) decreased neuronal [Cl(-)](i), the amplitude of RDPs, and neuronal excitability, while bumetanide had no effect on RDPs and neuronal excitability in the presence of bicuculline. These results suggest that the uptake of Cl(-) by NKCC1 affects the development of inhibitory synapses by promoting a depolarizing GABA-mediated response.
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ABSTRACT: GABA(A) receptors (GABA(A)Rs) exist as different subtype variants showing unique functional properties and defined spatio-temporal expression pattern. The molecular mechanisms underlying the developmental expression of different GABA(A)R are largely unknown. The intracellular concentration of chloride ([Cl(-)](i)), the main ion permeating through GABA(A)Rs, also undergoes considerable changes during maturation, being higher at early neuronal stages with respect to adult neurons. Here we investigate the possibility that [Cl(-)](i) could modulate the sequential expression of specific GABA(A)Rs subtypes in primary cerebellar neurons. We show that [Cl(-)](i) regulates the expression of α3-1 and δ-containing GABA(A) receptors, responsible for phasic and tonic inhibition, respectively. Our findings highlight the role of [Cl(-)](i) in tuning the strength of GABAergic responses by acting as an intracellular messenger.Nature Communications 01/2012; 3:738. · 7.40 Impact Factor