The computational ability of CNS neurons depends critically on the specific localization of ion channels in the somatodendritic and axonal membranes. Neuronal dendrites receive synaptic inputs at numerous spines and integrate them in time and space. The integration of synaptic potentials is regulated by voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels, such as Kv4.2, which are specifically localized in the dendritic membrane. The synaptic potentials eventually depolarize the membrane of the axon initial segment, thereby activating voltage-gated sodium channels to generate action potentials. Specific Kv channels localized in the axon initial segment, such as Kv1 and Kv7 channels, determine the shape and the rate of action potentials. Kv1 and Kv7 channels present at or near nodes of Ranvier and in presynaptic terminals also influence the propagation of action potentials and neurotransmitter release. The physiological significance of proper Kv channel localization is emphasized by the fact that defects in the trafficking of Kv channels are observed in several neurological disorders including epilepsy. In this review, we will summarize the current understanding of the mechanisms of Kv channel trafficking and discuss how they contribute to the establishment and maintenance of the specific localization of Kv channels in neurons.
Copyright Â© 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.