Ca(2+)-activated, voltage-independent K(+) channels are present in most neurons and mediate the afterhyperpolarizations (AHPs) following action potentials. They present distinct physiological and pharmacological properties and play an important role in controlling neuronal firing frequency and spike frequency adaptation. We used in situ hybridization to characterize the distribution patterns of the three cloned SK channel subunits (SK1-3), the prime candidates likely to underlie Ca(2+)-dependent AHPs in the central nervous system. We found high levels of expression in regions presenting prominent AHP currents, such as, for example, neocortex and CA1-3 layers of the hippocampus (SK1 and SK2), reticularis thalami (SK1 and SK2), supraoptic nucleus (SK3), and inferior olivary nucleus (SK2 and SK3). Our results reveal the functional role of SK channels with defined subunit compositions in some neurons and open the way to the identification of the molecular determinants of AHP currents in many brain regions.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.