- 1Voltage-gated potassium channels were studied in cell-attached and outside-out patches from the soma and primary apical dendrite of large layer 5 pyramidal neurons in acute slices of rat sensorimotor cortex (22–25 °C).
- 2Ensemble averages revealed that some patches contained only fast, IA-like channels, others contained only IK-like channels that did not inactivate or inactivated slowly, and the remainder contained mixtures of both channel types. IA and IK channels had mean unitary conductances of 8.5 and 20.3 pS, respectively, and had distinctive patterns of gating.
- 3Peak activation curves for ensemble-averaged currents were described by the Boltzmann equation with half-maximal voltage (V½) and slope factor (k) values of −24.5 mV and 16.9 mV for IA and −7.6 mV and 10.1 mV for IK (patches < 250 μm from the soma) or −22.9 mV and 16.2 mV for IA (patches > 250 μm from the soma). The steady-state inactivation curve for IA gave V½ and k values of −72.3 mV and −5.9 mV (< 250 μm from the soma) or −83.1 mV and −6.5 mV (> 250 μm from the soma). These values were similar to the corresponding data for IA and IK in nucleated patches from the same cell type.
- 4The amount of IA and IK present in patches depended weakly on distance along the primary apical dendrite from the soma. The amplitude of IA increased, on average, by 2.3 pA per 100 μm, while the amplitude of IK decreased by 0.4 pA per 100 μm.
- 5IA and IK channels in dendritic cell-attached patches were activated by the passage of a back-propagating action potential past the tip of the patch electrode. These results show directly that these potassium channels participate in action potential repolarisation, and thus contribute to the process of synaptic integration in these neurons.