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      Action potential generation requires a high sodium channel density in the axon initial segment

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          Abstract

          The axon initial segment (AIS) is a specialized region in neurons where action potentials are initiated. It is commonly assumed that this process requires a high density of voltage-gated sodium (Na(+)) channels. Paradoxically, the results of patch-clamp studies suggest that the Na(+) channel density at the AIS is similar to that at the soma and proximal dendrites. Here we provide data obtained by antibody staining, whole-cell voltage-clamp and Na(+) imaging, together with modeling, which indicate that the Na(+) channel density at the AIS of cortical pyramidal neurons is approximately 50 times that in the proximal dendrites. Anchoring of Na(+) channels to the cytoskeleton can explain this discrepancy, as disruption of the actin cytoskeleton increased the Na(+) current measured in patches from the AIS. Computational models required a high Na(+) channel density (approximately 2,500 pS microm(-2)) at the AIS to account for observations on action potential generation and backpropagation. In conclusion, action potential generation requires a high Na(+) channel density at the AIS, which is maintained by tight anchoring to the actin cytoskeleton.

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          Most cited references 48

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          Active propagation of somatic action potentials into neocortical pyramidal cell dendrites.

           B. Sakmann,  G Stuart (1994)
          The dendrites of neurons in the mammalian central nervous system have been considered as electrically passive structures which funnel synaptic potentials to the soma and axon initial segment, the site of action potential initiation. More recent studies, however, have shown that the dendrites of many neurons are not passive, but contain active conductances. The role of these dendritic voltage-activated channels in the initiation of action potentials in neurons is largely unknown. To assess this directly, patch-clamp recordings were made from the dendrites of neocortical pyramidal cells in brain slices. Voltage-activated sodium currents were observed in dendritic outside-out patches, while action potentials could be evoked by depolarizing current pulses or by synaptic stimulation during dendritic whole-cell recordings. To determine the site of initiation of these action potentials, simultaneous whole-cell recordings were made from the soma and the apical dendrite or axon of the same cell. These experiments showed that action potentials are initiated first in the axon and then actively propagate back into the dendritic tree.
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            AnkyrinG Is Required for Clustering of Voltage-gated Na Channels at Axon Initial Segments and for Normal Action Potential Firing

            Voltage-gated sodium channels (NaCh) are colocalized with isoforms of the membrane-skeletal protein ankyrinG at axon initial segments, nodes of Ranvier, and postsynaptic folds of the mammalian neuromuscular junction. The role of ankyrinG in directing NaCh localization to axon initial segments was evaluated by region-specific knockout of ankyrinG in the mouse cerebellum. Mutant mice exhibited a progressive ataxia beginning around postnatal day P16 and subsequent loss of Purkinje neurons. In mutant mouse cerebella, NaCh were absent from axon initial segments of granule cell neurons, and Purkinje cells showed deficiencies in their ability to initiate action potentials and support rapid, repetitive firing. Neurofascin, a member of the L1CAM family of ankyrin-binding cell adhesion molecules, also exhibited impaired localization to initial segments of Purkinje cell neurons. These results demonstrate that ankyrinG is essential for clustering NaCh and neurofascin at axon initial segments and is required for physiological levels of sodium channel activity.
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              Axon initial segment Kv1 channels control axonal action potential waveform and synaptic efficacy.

              Action potentials are binary signals that transmit information via their rate and temporal pattern. In this context, the axon is thought of as a transmission line, devoid of a role in neuronal computation. Here, we show a highly localized role of axonal Kv1 potassium channels in shaping the action potential waveform in the axon initial segment (AIS) of layer 5 pyramidal neurons independent of the soma. Cell-attached recordings revealed a 10-fold increase in Kv1 channel density over the first 50 microm of the AIS. Inactivation of AIS and proximal axonal Kv1 channels, as occurs during slow subthreshold somatodendritic depolarizations, led to a distance-dependent broadening of axonal action potentials, as well as an increase in synaptic strength at proximal axonal terminals. Thus, Kv1 channels are strategically positioned to integrate slow subthreshold signals, providing control of the presynaptic action potential waveform and synaptic coupling in local cortical circuits.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Neuroscience
                Nat Neurosci
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1097-6256
                1546-1726
                February 2008
                January 20 2008
                February 2008
                : 11
                : 2
                : 178-186
                Article
                10.1038/nn2040
                18204443
                © 2008

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