Expression of Kv3.1b potassium channel is widespread in macaque motor cortex pyramidal cells: A histological comparison between rat and macaque

J Comp Neurol. 2017 Jun 15;525(9):2164-2174. doi: 10.1002/cne.24192. Epub 2017 Mar 14.


There are substantial differences across species in the organization and function of the motor pathways. These differences extend to basic electrophysiological properties. Thus, in rat motor cortex, pyramidal cells have long duration action potentials, while in the macaque, some pyramidal neurons exhibit short duration "thin" spikes. These differences may be related to the expression of the fast potassium channel Kv3.1b, which in rat interneurons is associated with generation of thin spikes. Rat pyramidal cells typically lack these channels, while there are reports that they are present in macaque pyramids. Here we made a systematic, quantitative comparison of the Kv3.1b expression in sections from macaque and rat motor cortex, using two different antibodies (NeuroMab, Millipore). As our standard reference, we examined, in the same sections, Kv3.1b staining in parvalbumin-positive interneurons, which show strong Kv3.1b immunoreactivity. In macaque motor cortex, a large sample of pyramidal neurons were nearly all found to express Kv3.1b in their soma membranes. These labeled neurons were identified as pyramidal based either by expression of SMI32 (a pyramidal marker), or by their shape and size, and lack of expression of parvalbumin (a marker for some classes of interneuron). Large (Betz cells), medium, and small pyramidal neurons all expressed Kv3.1b. In rat motor cortex, SMI32-postive pyramidal neurons expressing Kv3.1b were very rare and weakly stained. Thus, there is a marked species difference in the immunoreactivity of Kv3.1b in pyramidal neurons, and this may be one of the factors explaining the pronounced electrophysiological differences between rat and macaque pyramidal neurons.

Keywords: Kv3.1b potassium channel; RRID:AB_10000344; RRID:AB_2131480; RRID:AB_2315331; RRID:AB_91735; interneuron; macaque; motor cortex.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Female
  • Intermediate Filaments / metabolism
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Motor Cortex / cytology*
  • Parvalbumins / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Shaw Potassium Channels / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity


  • Parvalbumins
  • Shaw Potassium Channels