Two opposite voltage-dependent currents control the unusual early development pattern of embryonic Renshaw cell electrical activity

Elife. 2021 Apr 26;10:e62639. doi: 10.7554/eLife.62639.


Renshaw cells (V1R) are excitable as soon as they reach their final location next to the spinal motoneurons and are functionally heterogeneous. Using multiple experimental approaches, in combination with biophysical modeling and dynamical systems theory, we analyzed, for the first time, the mechanisms underlying the electrophysiological properties of V1R during early embryonic development of the mouse spinal cord locomotor networks (E11.5-E16.5). We found that these interneurons are subdivided into several functional clusters from E11.5 and then display an unexpected transitory involution process during which they lose their ability to sustain tonic firing. We demonstrated that the essential factor controlling the diversity of the discharge pattern of embryonic V1R is the ratio of a persistent sodium conductance to a delayed rectifier potassium conductance. Taken together, our results reveal how a simple mechanism, based on the synergy of two voltage-dependent conductances that are ubiquitous in neurons, can produce functional diversity in embryonic V1R and control their early developmental trajectory.

Keywords: Renshaw cell; biophysical modeling; development; embryo; firing pattern; mouse; neuroscience; spinal cord.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Animals
  • Delayed Rectifier Potassium Channels / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Neurological
  • Morphogenesis
  • Phenotype
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Renshaw Cells / metabolism*
  • Sodium / metabolism*
  • Sodium Channels / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord / embryology
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • Systems Theory
  • Time Factors


  • Delayed Rectifier Potassium Channels
  • Sodium Channels
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Sodium
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • glutamate decarboxylase 1
  • Potassium

Grant support

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.