Trains of action potentials in CA1 pyramidal neurons are followed by a prolonged calcium-dependent postburst afterhyperpolarization (AHP) that serves to limit further firing to a sustained depolarizing input. A reduction in the AHP accompanies acquisition of several types of learning and increases in the AHP are correlated with age-related cognitive impairment. The AHP develops primarily as the result of activation of outward calcium-activated potassium currents; however, the precise source of calcium for activation of the AHP remains unclear. There is substantial experimental evidence suggesting that calcium influx via voltage-gated L-type calcium channels (L-VGCCs) contributes to the generation of the AHP. Two L-VGCC subtypes are predominately expressed in the hippocampus, Ca(V) 1.2 and Ca(V) 1.3; however, it is not known which L-VGCC subtype is involved in generation of the AHP. This ambiguity is due in large part to the fact that at present there are no subunit-specific agonists or antagonists. Therefore, using mice in which the gene encoding Ca(V) 1.2 or Ca(V) 1.3 was deleted, we sought to determine the impact of alterations in levels of these two L-VCGG subtypes on neuronal excitability. No differences in any AHP measure were seen between neurons from Ca(V) 1.2 knockout mice and controls. However, the total area of the AHP was significantly smaller in neurons from Ca(V) 1.3 knockout mice as compared with neurons from wild-type controls. A significant reduction in the amplitude of the AHP was also seen at the 1 s time point in neurons from Ca(V) 1.3 knockout mice as compared with those from controls. Reductions in both the area and 1 s amplitude suggest the involvement of calcium influx via Ca(V) 1.3 in the slow AHP (sAHP). Thus, the results of our study demonstrate that deletion of Ca(V) 1.3, but not Ca(V) 1.2, significantly impacts the generation of the sAHP.
Copyright © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.