[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The large-conductance K(+) channel (BK channel) can control neural excitability, and enhanced channel currents facilitate high firing rates in cortical neurons. The brain-specific auxiliary subunit β4 alters channel Ca(++)- and voltage-sensitivity, and β4 knock-out animals exhibit spontaneous seizures. Here we investigate β4's effect on BK channel trafficking to the plasma membrane. Using a novel genetic tag to track the cellular location of the pore-forming BKα subunit in living cells, we find that β4 expression profoundly reduces surface localization of BK channels via a C-terminal ER retention sequence. In hippocampal CA3 neurons from C57BL/6 mice with endogenously high β4 expression, whole-cell BK channel currents display none of the characteristic properties of BKα+β4 channels observed in heterologous cells. Finally, β4 knock-out animals exhibit a 2.5-fold increase in whole-cell BK channel current, indicating that β4 also regulates current magnitude in vivo. Thus, we propose that a major function of the brain-specific β4 subunit in CA3 neurons is control of surface trafficking.
PLoS ONE 03/2012; 7(3):e33429. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0033429 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the neocortex, neurons participate in epochs of elevated activity, or Up states, during periods of quiescent wakefulness, slow-wave sleep, and general anesthesia. The regulation of firing during and between Up states is of great interest because it can reflect the underlying connectivity and excitability of neurons within the network. Automated analysis of the onset and characteristics of Up state firing across different experiments and conditions requires a robust and accurate method for Up state detection. Using measurements of membrane potential mean and variance calculated from whole-cell recordings of neurons from control and postseizure tissue, the authors have developed such a method. This quantitative and automated method is independent of cell- or condition-dependent variability in underlying noise or tonic firing activity. Using this approach, the authors show that Up state frequency and firing rates are significantly increased in layer 2/3 neocortical neurons 24 hours after chemoconvulsant-induced seizure. Down states in postseizure tissue show greater membrane-potential variance characterized by increased synaptic activity. Previously, the authors have found that postseizure increase in excitability is linked to a gain-of-function in BK channels, and blocking BK channels in vitro and in vivo can decrease excitability and eliminate seizures. Thus, the authors also assessed the effect of BK-channel antagonists on Up state properties in control and postseizure neurons. These data establish a robust and broadly applicable algorithm for Up state detection and analysis, provide a quantitative description of how prior seizures increase spontaneous firing activity in cortical networks, and show how BK-channel antagonists reduce this abnormal activity.
Journal of clinical neurophysiology: official publication of the American Electroencephalographic Society 12/2010; 27(6):425-32. DOI:10.1097/WNP.0b013e3181fdf8bd · 1.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A heritable gain-of-function in BK channel activity has been associated with spontaneous seizures in both rodents and humans. We find that chemoconvulsant-induced seizures induce a gain-of-function in BK channel current that is associated with abnormal, elevated network excitability. Action potential half-width, evoked firing rate, and spontaneous network activity in vitro were all altered 24 h following picrotoxin-induced seizures in layer 2/3 pyramidal cells in the neocortex of young mice (P13-P16). Action potential half-width and firing output could be normalized to control values by application of BK channel antagonists in vitro. Thus, both inherited and acquired BK channel gain-of-functions are linked to abnormal excitability. Because BK channel antagonists can reduce elevated firing activity in neocortical neurons, BK channels might serve as a new target for anticonvulsant therapy.
Neurobiology of Disease 07/2008; 30(3):323-30. DOI:10.1016/j.nbd.2008.02.002 · 5.08 Impact Factor