Activity-dependent gene expression in neurons shows a remarkable ability to differentiate between different types of stimulation: orthodromic inputs that engage synaptic transmission are much more effective than antidromic stimuli that do not. We have studied the basis of such selectivity in cultured hippocampal neurons in which nuclear cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation is induced by synaptic activity but not by action potential (AP) stimulation in the absence of EPSPs, although spikes by themselves generate large elevations in intracellular Ca2+. Previous work has shown that Ca2+ entry through L-type Ca2+ channels plays a dominant role in triggering calmodulin mobilization and activation of calmodulin- dependent kinases that phosphorylate CREB, raising the possibility that L- type channels contribute to the selective response to EPSPs rather than APs. Accordingly, we performed voltage-clamp experiments to compare the currents carried by L-type channels during depolarizing waveforms that approximated APs or dendritic EPSPs. The integrated current generated by L-type channels was significantly less after mock APs than with EPSP-like depolarizations. The difference was traced to two distinct factors. Compared with other channels, L-type channels activated at relatively negative potentials, favoring their opening with EPSP stimulation; they also exhibited relatively slow activation kinetics, weighing against their contribution during an AP. The relative ineffectiveness of APs as a stimulus for CREB phosphorylation could be overcome by exposure to the agonist Bay K8644, which potentiated the AP-induced influx through L-type channels by ~10-fold. Under normal conditions, the unique biophysical properties of L-type channels allow them to act as a kinetic filter to support spike-EPSP discrimination.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Neuroscience|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2000|
- Bay K8644
- Calcium channels
- Gene expression