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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Phasic and tonic attenuation of EPSPs by inward rectifier K+ channels in rat hippocampal pyramidal cells.

We made whole-cell recordings from CA1 pyramidal cells of hippocampal slices in combination with brief dendritic glutamate pulses to study the role of constitutive inwardly rectifying K+ channels (IRK, Kir2.0) and G-protein-activated inwardly rectifying K+ channels (GIRK, Kir3.0) in the processing of excitatory inputs. Phasic activation of GIRK channels by baclofen (20 microM) produced a reversible reduction of glutamate-evoked postsynaptic potentials (GPSPs), our equivalent of EPSPs, by about one-third. Conversely, tertiapin (30 nM), a selective inhibitor of GIRK channels, and Ba2+ (200 microM), a non-selective blocker of inwardly rectifying K+ channels, enhanced GPSPs and, in voltage-clamp experiments, reduced the underlying K+ conductances, indicating a functionally significant background GIRK conductance, in addition to constitutive IRK channel activity. When examined after suppression of endogenous adenosinergic inhibition, using either adenosine deaminase or the selective A1 receptor antagonist, 1,3-dipropyl-8-cyclopentylxanthine, tertiapin failed to influence either the GPSPs or the inwardly rectifying K+ conductance. Voltage-clamp recordings from acutely isolated CA1 pyramidal cells not exposed to ambient adenosine exhibited no response to tertiapin, whereas Ba2+ was still capable of reducing hyperpolarizing inward rectification. Our data indicate that in hippocampal pyramidal cells, two components of the inwardly rectifying K+ conductance can be identified, which together exert a tonic modulation of excitatory synaptic input: one arises from constitutive putative IRK channels, the other is mediated by the background activity of GIRK channels that results from the tonic activation of A1 receptors by ambient adenosine.[1]


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