Hyperpolarization-activated, cyclic nucleotide-gated cation channels: roles in the differential electrophysiological properties of rat primary afferent neurons

Huiyin Tu, Lunbin Deng, Qian Sun, Lei Yao, Ji-Sheng Han, You Wan
Journal of Neuroscience Research 2004 June 1, 76 (5): 713-22
The large, medium-sized, and small neurons of the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) have different functions in the processing of various senses. Hyperpolarization-activated, cyclic nucleotide-gated channels (HCN) contribute greatly to neuronal excitability. In the present study, which used whole-cell patch clamp techniques and immunohistochemical staining methods, the electrophysiological properties of DRG neurons were systematically compared, and the roles of HCN-1, -2, and -4 were examined. The main results were as follows. 1) The large neurons had significantly higher V0.5 values (membrane potential at which the HCN channels were half-activated) and shorter time constants (tau) than small or medium-sized DRG neurons. However, large DRG neurons had higher Ih density (HCN neuron current). 2) HCN-1 was found predominantly, but not exclusively, in large and medium-sized DRG neurons; HCN-2 was found in all DRG neurons; and HCN-4 was poorly visualized in all DRG neurons. HCN-1 and HCN-2 were colocalized in large and medium-sized neurons with immunostaining of adjacent sections. In the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, HCN-1, HCN-2, and HCN-4 were all expressed in laminae I-IV, although HCN-1 was not detectable in lamina II. 3) Blockade of Ih current in DRG neurons caused a significant decrease in V0.5, resting membrane potential, and repetitive firing number of action potential and a significant increase in time of rising phase of action potential. These results suggest that the different HCN channels in the three types of DRG neurons might contribute to their differential electrophysiological properties.

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