Mechanotransduction and hyperpolarization-activated currents contribute to spontaneous activity in mouse vestibular ganglion neurons
Horwitz, Geoffrey C.
Risner-Janiczek, Jessica R.
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CitationHorwitz, Geoffrey C., Jessica R. Risner-Janiczek, and Jeffrey R. Holt. 2014. “Mechanotransduction and hyperpolarization-activated currents contribute to spontaneous activity in mouse vestibular ganglion neurons.” The Journal of General Physiology 143 (4): 481-497. doi:10.1085/jgp.201311126. http://dx.doi.org/10.1085/jgp.201311126.
AbstractThe hyperpolarization-activated, cyclic nucleotide–sensitive current, Ih, is present in vestibular hair cells and vestibular ganglion neurons, and is required for normal balance function. We sought to identify the molecular correlates and functional relevance of Ih in vestibular ganglion neurons. Ih is carried by channels consisting of homo- or heteromeric assemblies of four protein subunits from the Hcn gene family. The relative expression of Hcn1–4 mRNA was examined using a quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) screen. Hcn2 was the most highly expressed subunit in vestibular neuron cell bodies. Immunolocalization of HCN2 revealed robust expression in cell bodies of all vestibular ganglion neurons. To characterize Ih in vestibular neuron cell bodies and at hair cell–afferent synapses, we developed an intact, ex vivo preparation. We found robust physiological expression of Ih in 89% of cell bodies and 100% of calyx terminals. Ih was significantly larger in calyx terminals than in cell bodies; however, other biophysical characteristics were similar. Ih was absent in calyces lacking Hcn1 and Hcn2, but small Ih was still present in cell bodies, which suggests expression of an additional subunit, perhaps Hcn4. To determine the contributions of hair cell mechanotransduction and Ih to the firing patterns of calyx terminals, we recorded action potentials in current-clamp mode. Mechanotransduction currents were modulated by hair bundle defection and application of calcium chelators to disrupt tip links. Ih activity was modulated using ZD7288 and cAMP. We found that both hair cell transduction and Ih contribute to the rate and regularity of spontaneous action potentials in the vestibular afferent neurons. We propose that modulation of Ih in vestibular ganglion neurons may provide a mechanism for modulation of spontaneous activity in the vestibular periphery.
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