Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 are the major L-type voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels in the CNS. Yet, their individual in vivo functions are largely unknown. Both channel subunits are expressed in the auditory brainstem, where Cav1.3 is essential for proper maturation. Here, we investigated the role of Cav1.2 by targeted deletion in the mouse embryonic auditory brainstem. Similar to Cav1.3, loss of Cav1.2 resulted in a significant decrease in the volume and cell number of auditory nuclei. Contrary to the deletion of Cav1.3, the action potentials of lateral superior olive (LSO) neurons were narrower compared with controls, whereas the firing behavior and neurotransmission appeared unchanged. Furthermore, auditory brainstem responses were nearly normal in mice lacking Cav1.2. Perineuronal nets were also unaffected. The medial nucleus of the trapezoid body underwent a rapid cell loss between postnatal days P0 and P4, shortly after circuit formation. Phosphorylated cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB), nuclear NFATc4, and the expression levels of p75NTR, Fas, and FasL did not correlate with cell death. These data demonstrate for the first time that both Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 are necessary for neuronal survival but are differentially required for the biophysical properties of neurons. Thus, they perform common as well as distinct functions in the same tissue.
Keywords: apoptosis; calcium channel; mouse; neuron; signal transduction.
© 2015 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.