The olfactory glomerulus is the locus of information transfer between olfactory sensory neurons and output neurons of the olfactory bulb. Juxtaglomerular cells (JGCs) may influence intraglomerular processing by firing plateau potentials that support multiple spikes. It is unclear what inward currents mediate this firing pattern. In previous work, we characterized potassium currents of JGCs. We focus here on the inward currents using whole cell current clamp and voltage recording in a rat in vitro slice preparation, as well as computer simulation. We first showed that sodium current was not required to mediate plateau potentials. Voltage clamp characterization of calcium current (I(Ca)) determined that I(Ca) consisted of a slow activating, rapidly inactivating (τ(10%-90% rise) 6-8 ms, τ(inactivation) 38-77 ms) component I(cat1), similar to T-type currents, and a sustained (τ(inactivation)>>500 ms) component I(cat2), likely composed of L-type and P/Q-type currents. We used computer simulation to test their roles in plateau potential firing. We robustly modeled I(cat1) and I(cat2) to Hodgkin-Huxley schemes (m(3)h and m(2), respectively) and simulated a JGC plateau potential with six conductances: calcium currents as above, potassium currents from our prior study (A-type I(kt1), D-type I(kt2), delayed rectifier I(kt3)), and a fast sodium current (I(Na)). We demonstrated that I(cat1) was required for mediating the plateau potential, unlike I(Na) and I(cat2), and its τ(inactivation) determined plateau duration. We also found that I(kt1) dictated plateau potential shape more than I(kt2) and I(kt3). The influence of these two transient and opposing conductances suggests a unique mechanism of plateau potential physiology.
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