A defined heteromeric KV1 channel stabilizes the intrinsic pacemaking and regulates the output of deep cerebellar nuclear neurons to thalamic targets

J Physiol. 2013 Apr 1;591(7):1771-91. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.249706. Epub 2013 Jan 14.


The output of the cerebellum to the motor axis of the central nervous system is orchestrated mainly by synaptic inputs and intrinsic pacemaker activity of deep cerebellar nuclear (DCN) projection neurons. Herein, we demonstrate that the soma of these cells is enriched with K(V)1 channels produced by mandatory multi-merization of K(V)1.1, 1.2 α and KV β2 subunits. Being constitutively active, the K(+) current (IK(V)1) mediated by these channels stabilizes the rate and regulates the temporal precision of self-sustained firing of these neurons. Placed strategically, IK(V)1 provides a powerful counter-balance to prolonged depolarizing inputs, attenuates the rebound excitation, and dampens the membrane potential bi-stability. Somatic location with low activation threshold render IK(V)1 instrumental in voltage-dependent de-coupling of the axon initial segment from the cell body of projection neurons, impeding invasion of back-propagating action potentials into the somato-dendritic compartment. The latter is also demonstrated to secure the dominance of clock-like somatic pacemaking in driving the regenerative firing activity of these neurons, to encode time variant inputs with high fidelity. Through the use of multi-compartmental modelling and retro-axonal labelling, the physiological significance of the described functions for processing and communication of information from the lateral DCN to thalamic relay nuclei is established.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / cytology
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Protein Subunits / physiology
  • Rats
  • Shaker Superfamily of Potassium Channels / physiology*
  • Thalamus / physiology*


  • Protein Subunits
  • Shaker Superfamily of Potassium Channels