Distinct perinatal features of the hyperpolarization-activated non-selective cation current I h in the rat cortical plate
1 Institute of Cell Biology and Neurobiology, Center for Anatomy, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1, 10117, Berlin, Germany
2 University Rostock, Neurological Clinic, Gehlsheimer Strasse 20, 18147, Rostock, Germany
3 Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Meibergdreef 47, 1105, BA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Neural Development 2012, 7:21 doi:10.1186/1749-8104-7-21Published: 13 June 2012
During neocortical development, multiple voltage- and ligand-gated ion channels are differentially expressed in neurons thereby shaping their intrinsic electrical properties. One of these voltage-gated ion channels, the hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channel and its current Ih, is an important regulator of neuronal excitability. Thus far, studies on an early Ih appearance in rodent neocortex are missing or conflicting. Therefore, we focused our study on perinatal neocortical Ih and its properties.
In the perinatal rat neocortex we observed a rapid increase in the number of neurons exhibiting Ih. Perinatal Ih had unique properties: first, a pronounced cAMP sensitivity resulting in a marked shift of the voltage sufficient for half-maximum activation of the current towards depolarized voltages and second, an up to 10 times slower deactivation at physiological membrane potentials when compared to the one at postnatal day 30. The combination of these features was sufficient to suppress membrane resonance in our in silico and in vitro experiments. Although all four HCN subunits were present on the mRNA level we only detected HCN4, HCN3 and HCN1 on the protein level at P0. HCN1 protein at P0, however, appeared incompletely processed. At P30 glycosilated HCN1 and HCN2 dominated. By in silico simulations and heterologous co-expression experiments of a ‘slow’ and a ‘fast’ Ih conducting HCN channel subunit in HEK293 cells, we mimicked most characteristics of the native current, pointing to a functional combination of subunit homo- or heteromeres.
Taken together, these data indicate a HCN subunit shift initiated in the first 24 hours after birth and implicate a prominent perinatal role of the phylogenetically older HCN3 and/or HCN4 subunits in the developing neocortex.