The Role of HCN Channels on Membrane Excitability in the Nervous System

J Signal Transduct. 2012;2012:619747. doi: 10.1155/2012/619747. Epub 2012 Aug 13.

Abstract

Hyperpolarization-activated and cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels were first reported in heart cells and are recently known to be involved in a variety of neural functions in healthy and diseased brains. HCN channels generate inward currents when the membrane potential is hyperpolarized. Voltage dependence of HCN channels is regulated by intracellular signaling cascades, which contain cyclic AMP, PIP(2), and TRIP8b. In addition, voltage-gated potassium channels have a strong influence on HCN channel activity. Because of these funny features, HCN channel currents, previously called funny currents, can have a wide range of functions that are determined by a delicate balance of modulatory factors. These multifaceted features also make it difficult to predict and elucidate the functional role of HCN channels in actual neurons. In this paper, we focus on the impacts of HCN channels on neural activity. The functions of HCN channels reported previously will be summarized, and their mechanisms will be explained by using numerical simulation of simplified model neurons.