Nonselective cation channels are essential for maintaining intracellular Ca2+ levels and spontaneous firing activity in the midbrain dopamine neurons
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Intracellular Ca2+ and Ca2+-permeable ion channels are important in regulating the firing activity and pattern of midbrain dopamine neurons, but the role of Ca2+-permeable nonselective cation channels (NSCCs) on spontaneous firing activity is unclear. Therefore, we investigated how Ca2+-permeable NSCCs modulate spontaneous firing activity and cytosolic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]c) in acutely isolated midbrain dopamine neurons of the rat. Applications of voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels antagonists failed to abolish spontaneous firing activity completely, but they decreased firing rate and [Ca2+]c. However, a blockade of NSCCs by 2-APB or SKF96365 more potently suppressed spontaneous firings with a depolarization of membrane potential and strong decreases in basal [Ca2+]c levels. The depolarization of membrane potentials was attenuated by intracellular dialysis with 1,2-bis(o-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid (BAPTA). NSCCs blockers inhibited oscillatory potentials and decreased basal [Ca2+]c in the presence of tetrodotoxin. Apamin, a small-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel inhibitor, depolarized membrane potentials and enhanced firing rates. From these data, we conclude that NSCCs not only make up the tonic Ca2+ entry pathways to uphold basal [Ca2+]c levels but also contribute to generation of spontaneous firings, thereby regulating spontaneous firing activities of the midbrain dopamine neurons.
KeywordsDopamine neuron VOCC Nonselective cation channel (NSCC) Basal Ca2+ concentration Spontaneous firing Substantia nigra
This work was supported by the Neurobiology Research Program from the Korea Ministry of Science and Technology (M1-0108-00-0027) and by grant no. R01-2006-000-10478-0 from the Basic Research Program of the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation.
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