The auditory system provides a valuable experimental model to investigate the role of sensory activity in regulating neuronal membrane properties. In this study, we have investigated the role of activity directly by measuring changes in medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) neurons in normal hearing mice subjected to 1-h sound stimulation. Broadband (4-12 kHz) chirps were used to activate MNTB neurons tonotopically restricted to the lateral MNTB, as confirmed by c-Fos-immunoreactivity. Following 1-h sound stimulation a substantial increase in Kv3.1b-immunoreactivity was measured in the lateral region of the MNTB, which lasted for 2 h before returning to control levels. Electrophysiological patch-clamp recordings in brainstem slices revealed an increase in high-threshold potassium currents in the lateral MNTB of sound-stimulated mice. Current-clamp and dynamic-clamp experiments showed that MNTB cells from the sound-stimulated mice were able to maintain briefer action potentials during high-frequency firing than cells from control mice. These results provide evidence that acoustically driven auditory activity can selectively regulate high-threshold potassium currents in the MNTB of normal hearing mice, likely due to an increased membrane expression of Kv3.1b channels.
© 2010 The Authors. European Journal of Neuroscience © 2010 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.