Heterogeneity of neural properties within a given neural class is ubiquitous in the nervous system and permits different sub-classes of neurons to specialize for specific purposes. This principle has been thoroughly investigated in the hindbrain of the weakly electric fish A. leptorhynchus in the primary electrosensory area, the Electrosensory Lateral Line lobe (ELL). The pyramidal cells (PCs) that receive inputs from tuberous electroreceptors are organized in three maps in distinct segments of the ELL. The properties of these cells vary greatly across maps due to differences in connectivity, receptor expression, and ion channel composition. These cells are a seminal example of bursting neurons and their bursting dynamic relies on the presence of voltage-gated Na+ channels in the extensive apical dendrites of the superficial PCs. Other ion channels can affect burst generation and their expression varies across ELL neurons and segments. For example, SK channels cause hyperpolarizing after-potentials decreasing the likelihood of bursting, yet bursting propensity is similar across segments. We question whether the depolarizing mechanism that generates the bursts presents quantitative differences across segments that could counterbalance other differences having the opposite effect. Although their presence and role are established, the distribution and density of the apical dendrites’ Na+ channels have not been quantified and compared across ELL maps. Therefore, we test the hypothesis that Na+ channel density varies across segment by quantifying their distribution in the apical dendrites of immunolabeled ELL sections. We found the Na+ channels to be two-fold denser in the lateral segment (LS) than in the centro-medial segment (CMS), the centro-lateral segment (CLS) being intermediate. Our results imply that this differential expression of voltage-gated Na+ channels could counterbalance or interact with other aspects of neuronal physiology that vary across segments (e.g., SK channels). We argue that burst coding of sensory signals, and the way the network regulates bursting, should be influenced by these variations in Na+ channel density
Digital Commons Citation
Motipally, Sree I.; Allen, Kathryne M.; Williamson, Daniel K.; and Marsat, Gary, "Differences in Sodium Channel Densities in the Apical Dendrites of Pyramidal Cells of the Electrosensory Lateral Line Lobe" (2019). Faculty & Staff Scholarship. 1994.
Motipally SI, Allen KM, Williamson DK and Marsat G (2019) Differences in Sodium Channel Densities in the Apical Dendrites of Pyramidal Cells of the Electrosensory Lateral Line Lobe. Front. Neural Circuits 13:41. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2019.00041