KCNQ Channels Enable Reliable Presynaptic Spiking and Synaptic Transmission at High Frequency

Yihui Zhang, Dainan Li, Youad Darwish, Xin Fu, Laurence O. Trussell, Hai Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The presynaptic action potential (AP) is required to drive calcium influx into nerve terminals, resulting in neurotransmitter release. Accordingly, the AP waveform is crucial in determining the timing and strength of synaptic transmission. The calyx of Held nerve terminals of rats of either sex showed minimum changes in AP waveform during high-frequency AP firing. We found that the stability of the calyceal AP waveform requires KCNQ (KV7) K+ channel activation during high-frequency spiking activity. High-frequency presynaptic spikes gradually led to accumulation of KCNQ channels in open states which kept interspike membrane potential sufficiently negative to maintain Na+ channel availability. Blocking KCNQ channels during stimulus trains led to inactivation of presynaptic Na+, and to a lesser extent KV1 channels, thereby reducing the AP amplitude and broadening AP duration. Moreover, blocking KCNQ channels disrupted the stable calcium influx and glutamate release required for reliable synaptic transmission at high frequency. Thus, while KCNQ channels are generally thought to prevent hyperactivity of neurons, we find that in axon terminals these channels function to facilitate reliable high-frequency synaptic signaling needed for sensory information processing.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The presynaptic spike results in calcium influx required for neurotransmitter release. For this reason, the spike waveform is crucial in determining the timing and strength of synaptic transmission. Auditory information is encoded by spikes phase locked to sound frequency at high rates. The calyx of Held nerve terminals in the auditory brainstem show minimum changes in spike waveform during high-frequency spike firing. We found that activation of KCNQ K+ channel builds up during high-frequency firing and its activation helps to maintain a stable spike waveform and reliable synaptic transmission. While KCNQ channels are generally thought to prevent hyperexcitability of neurons, we find that in axon terminals these channels function to facilitate high-frequency synaptic signaling during auditory information processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3305-3315
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Volume42
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 20 2022

Keywords

  • KCNQ channels
  • action potential waveform
  • axon terminal
  • calyx of Held
  • channel inactivation
  • synaptic transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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