The magnitudes of hyperpolarization-activated and low-voltage-activated potassium currents co-vary in neurons of the ventral cochlear nucleus

J Neurophysiol. 2011 Aug;106(2):630-40. doi: 10.1152/jn.00015.2010. Epub 2011 May 11.


In the ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN), neurons have hyperpolarization-activated conductances, which in some cells are enormous, that contribute to the ability of neurons to convey acoustic information in the timing of their firing by decreasing the input resistance and speeding-up voltage changes. Comparisons of the electrophysiological properties of neurons in the VCN of mutant mice that lack the hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channel α subunit 1 (HCN1(-/-)) (Nolan et al. 2003) with wild-type controls (HCN1(+/+)) and with outbred ICR mice reveal that octopus, T stellate, and bushy cells maintain their electrophysiological distinctions in all strains. Hyperpolarization-activated (I(h)) currents were smaller and slower, input resistances were higher, and membrane time constants were longer in HCN1(-/-) than in HCN1(+/+) in octopus, bushy, and T stellate cells. There were significant differences in the average magnitudes of I(h), input resistances, and time constants between HCN1(+/+) and ICR mice, but the resting potentials did not differ between strains. I(h) is opposed by a low-voltage-activated potassium (I(KL)) current in bushy and octopus cells, whose magnitudes varied widely between neuronal types and between strains. The magnitudes of I(h) and I(KL) were correlated across neuronal types and across mouse strains. Furthermore, these currents balanced one another at the resting potential in individual cells. The magnitude of I(h) and I(KL) is linked in bushy and octopus cells and varies not only between HCN1(-/-) and HCN1(+/+) but also between "wild-type" strains of mice, raising the question to what extent the wild-type strains reflect normal mice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cochlear Nucleus / cytology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / physiology*
  • Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Cation Channels / deficiency
  • Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Cation Channels / physiology*
  • Hyperpolarization-Activated Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Channels
  • Membrane Potentials / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, 129 Strain
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neural Inhibition / genetics
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Potassium Channels / deficiency
  • Potassium Channels / genetics
  • Potassium Channels / physiology*
  • Species Specificity


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