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Keywords:

  • dendrite;
  • hippocampus;
  • immunohistochemistry;
  • potassium channels;
  • pyramidal cell;
  • rat

Abstract

A-type K+ current (IA) plays a critical role in controlling the excitability of pyramidal cell (PC) dendrites. In vitro dendritic patch-pipette recordings have demonstrated a prominent, sixfold increase in IA density along the main apical dendrites of rat hippocampal CA1 PCs. In these cells, IA is mediated by Kv4.2 subunits, whose precise subcellular distribution and densities in small-diameter oblique dendrites and dendritic spines are still unknown. Here we examined the densities of the Kv4.2 subunit in 13 axo-somato-dendritic compartments of CA1 PCs using a highly sensitive, high-resolution quantitative immunogold localization method (sodium dodecyl sulphate-digested freeze-fracture replica-labelling). Only an approximately 70% increase in Kv4.2 immunogold density was observed along the proximo-distal axis of main apical dendrites in the stratum radiatum with a slight decrease in density in stratum lacunosum-moleculare. A similar pattern was detected for all dendritic compartments, including main apical dendrites, small-diameter oblique dendrites and dendritic spines. The specificity of the somato-dendritic labelling was confirmed in Kv4.2−/− tissue. No specific immunolabelling for the Kv4.2 subunit was found in SNAP-25-containing presynaptic axons. Our results demonstrate a novel distribution pattern of a voltage-gated ion channel along the somato-dendritic surface of CA1 PCs, and suggest that the increase in the IA along the proximo-distal axis of PC dendrites cannot be solely explained by a corresponding increase in Kv4.2 channel number.