The chemokine CXCL12 and the HIV-1 envelope protein gp120 regulate spontaneous activity of Cajal-Retzius cells in opposite directions

J Physiol. 2012 Jul 1;590(13):3185-202. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.224873. Epub 2012 Apr 2.


Activation of the CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) in Cajal–Retzius cells by CXC chemokine ligand 12 (CXCL12) is important for controlling their excitability. CXCR4 is also a co-receptor for the glycoprotein 120 (gp120) of the envelope of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), and binding of gp120 to CXCR4 may produce pathological effects. In order to study CXCR4-dependent modulation of membrane excitability, we recorded in cell-attached configuration spontaneous action currents from hippocampal stratum lacunosum-moleculare Cajal–Retzius cells of the CXCR4-EGFP mouse. CXCL12 (50 nM) powerfully inhibited firing independently of synaptic transmission, suggesting that CXCR4 regulates an intrinsic conductance. This effect was prevented by conditioning slices with BAPTA-AM (200 μM), and by blockers of the BK calcium-dependent potassium channels (TEA (1 mM), paxilline (10 μM) and iberiotoxin (100 nM)). In contrast, exposure to gp120 (pico- to nanomolar range, alone or in combination with soluble cluster of differentiation 4 (CD4)), enhanced spontaneous firing frequency. This effect was prevented by the CXCR4 antagonist AMD3100 (1 μM) and was absent in EGFP-negative stratum lacunosum-moleculare interneurons. Increased excitability was prevented by treating slices with BAPTA-AM or bumetanide, suggesting that gp120 activates a mechanism that is both calcium- and chloride-dependent. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that CXCL12 and gp120 modulate the excitability of Cajal–Retzius cells in opposite directions. We propose that CXCL12 and gp120 either generate calcium responses of different strength or activate distinct pools of intracellular calcium, leading to agonist-specific responses, mediated by BK channels in the case of CXCL12, and by a chloride-dependent mechanism in the case of gp120.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Chemokine CXCL12 / physiology*
  • Chloride Channels / physiology
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated / physiology
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / physiology*


  • CXCR4 protein, mouse
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chloride Channels
  • Cxcl12 protein, mouse
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • gp120 protein, Human immunodeficiency virus 1
  • Calcium