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Keywords:

  • pacemaker nucleus;
  • electrosensory lateral line lobe;
  • torus semicircularis;
  • central pattern generation;
  • ionic currents;
  • teleost;
  • gymnotiform

Abstract

The electromotor and electrosensory systems of the weakly electric fish Apteronotus leptorhynchus are model systems for studying mechanisms of high-frequency motor pattern generation and sensory processing. Voltage-dependent ionic currents, including low-threshold potassium currents, influence excitability of neurons in these circuits and thereby regulate motor output and sensory filtering. Although Kv1-like potassium channels are likely to carry low-threshold potassium currents in electromotor and electrosensory neurons, the distribution of Kv1 α subunits in A. leptorhynchus is unknown. In this study, we used immunohistochemistry with six different antibodies raised against specific mammalian Kv1 α subunits (Kv1.1–Kv1.6) to characterize the distribution of Kv1-like channels in electromotor and electrosensory structures. Each Kv1 antibody labeled a distinct subset of neurons, fibers, and/or dendrites in electromotor and electrosensory nuclei. Kv1-like immunoreactivity in the electrosensory lateral line lobe (ELL) and pacemaker nucleus are particularly relevant in light of previous studies suggesting that potassium currents carried by Kv1 channels regulate neuronal excitability in these regions. Immunoreactivity of pyramidal cells in the ELL with several Kv1 antibodies is consistent with Kv1 channels carrying low-threshold outward currents that regulate spike waveform in these cells (Fernandez et al., J Neurosci 2005;25:363–371). Similarly, Kv1-like immunoreactivity in the pacemaker nucleus is consistent with a role of Kv1 channels in spontaneous high-frequency firing in pacemaker neurons. Robust Kv1-like immunoreactivity in several other structures, including the dorsal torus semicircularis, tuberous electroreceptors, and the electric organ, indicates that Kv1 channels are broadly expressed and are likely to contribute significantly to generating the electric organ discharge and processing electrosensory inputs. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Neurobiol, 2006