Distribution of neuronal KCC2a and KCC2b isoforms in mouse CNS

J Comp Neurol. 2014 Jun 1;522(8):1897-914. doi: 10.1002/cne.23510.


The neuronal K-Cl cotransporter KCC2 maintains the low intracellular chloride concentration required for the fast hyperpolarizing actions of inhibitory neurotransmitters in mature central nervous system (CNS). The KCC2 gene produces two isoforms, KCC2a and KCC2b, that differ in their N-termini. Increase of KCC2b in the cortex underlies the developmental shift in γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic responses, whereas the physiological role of KCC2a is still poorly characterized. The two KCC2 isoforms show equal distribution in mouse brainstem neurons at birth; however their postnatal expression patterns, and the subcellular localization of KCC2a, have not yet been described. Here, we compared the pattern of KCC2a and KCC2b expression in different regions of postnatal mouse CNS by immunohistochemistry by using isoform-specific antibodies. Tissue from KCC2a isoform-specific knockout mice was used as a negative control. KCC2b expression increased postnatally and was widely expressed in adult brain. KCC2a immunoreactivity was low or absent in most parts of the adult cortex, hippocampus, thalamus, and cerebellar cortex. Both isoforms were widely present in the developing and mature hypothalamus, a large part of the brainstem, and the spinal cord. A notable exception was the lack of KCC2a staining in the brainstem auditory system. At the subcellular level, the isoforms were only partially colocalized. In neuronal somas, KCC2b immunoreactivity was concentrated at the plasma membrane, whereas KCC2a signal was not. Moreover, although both isoforms were expressed in microtubule-associated protein (MAP)2-positive dendrites, they appeared in non-overlapping dendritic compartments. The results, together with those of previous studies, suggest that KCC2a and KCC2b have overlapping roles in neonatal neurons but presumably different roles in mature neurons.

Keywords: KCC2; central auditory system; chloride regulation; dendritic branch; hyperpolarizing inhibition; motoneuron.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain Chemistry* / physiology
  • Female
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neurons / chemistry*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / analysis
  • Protein Isoforms / biosynthesis
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Spinal Cord / chemistry*
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Symporters / analysis*
  • Symporters / biosynthesis
  • Symporters / genetics


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Symporters
  • potassium-chloride symporters