Immunohistochemical localization of the voltage-gated potassium channel subunit Kv1.4 in the central nervous system of the adult rat

J Chem Neuroanat. 2003 Nov;26(3):209-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2003.07.006.


A large set of voltage-gated potassium channels is involved in regulating essential aspects of neuronal function in the central nervous system, thus contributing to the ability of neurons to respond to a given input. In the present study, we used immunocytochemical methods to elucidate the regional, cellular and subcellular distribution of the voltage-gated potassium channel subunit Kv1.4, a member of the Shaker subfamily, in the brain. At the light microscopic level, the Kv1.4 subunit showed a unique distribution pattern, being localized in specific neuronal populations of the rat brain. The neuronal regions expressing the highest levels of Kv1.4 protein included the cerebral cortex, the hippocampus, the posterolateral and posteromedial ventral thalamic nuclei, the dorsolateral and medial geniculate nuclei, the substantia nigra and the dorsal cochlear nucleus. The Kv1.4 subunit was also present in other neuronal populations, with different levels of Kv1.4 immunoreactivity. In all immunolabeled regions, the Kv1.4 subunit was mostly diffusely distributed and, to a lesser extent, it stained cell bodies and proximal dendrites. Furthermore, Kv1.4 immunoreactivity was also detected in nerve terminals and axonal terminal fields. At the electron microscopic level, Kv1.4 was located postsynaptically in dendritic spines and shafts at extrasynaptic sites, as well as presynaptically in axon and active zone of axon terminals, in the neocortex and hippocampus. The findings indicate that Kv1.4 channels are widely distributed in the rat brain and suggest that activation of this channel would have different modulatory effects on neuronal excitability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / chemistry
  • Cochlear Nucleus / chemistry
  • Geniculate Bodies / chemistry
  • Hippocampus / chemistry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kv1.4 Potassium Channel
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Potassium Channels / analysis
  • Potassium Channels / physiology*
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Substantia Nigra / chemistry
  • Thalamic Nuclei / chemistry


  • Kcna4 protein, rat
  • Kv1.4 Potassium Channel
  • Potassium Channels
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated