Polarized and compartment-dependent distribution of HCN1 in pyramidal cell dendrites

Nat Neurosci. 2002 Nov;5(11):1185-93. doi: 10.1038/nn962.


An ion channel's function depends largely on its location and density on neurons. Here we used high-resolution immunolocalization to determine the subcellular distribution of the hyperpolarization-activated and cyclic-nucleotide-gated channel subunit 1 (HCN1) in rat brain. Light microscopy revealed graded HCN1 immunoreactivity in apical dendrites of hippocampal, subicular and neocortical layer-5 pyramidal cells. Quantitative comparison of immunogold densities showed a 60-fold increase from somatic to distal apical dendritic membranes. Distal dendritic shafts had 16 times more HCN1 labeling than proximal dendrites of similar diameters. At the same distance from the soma, the density of HCN1 was significantly higher in dendritic shafts than in spines. Our results reveal the complex cell surface distribution of voltage-gated ion-channels, and predict its role in increasing the computational power of single neurons via subcellular domain and input-specific mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Compartmentation / physiology
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Cation Channels
  • Dendrites / chemistry*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hyperpolarization-Activated Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Channels
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ion Channels / analysis*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Neocortex / cytology
  • Potassium Channels
  • Pyramidal Cells / chemistry*
  • Pyramidal Cells / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Cation Channels
  • Hcn1 protein, rat
  • Hyperpolarization-Activated Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Channels
  • Ion Channels
  • Potassium Channels