Afferent innervation patterns in the vestibular periphery are complex, and vestibular afferents show a large variation in their regularity of firing. Calyx fibers terminate on type I vestibular hair cells and have firing characteristics distinct from the bouton fibers that innervate type II hair cells. Whole-cell patch clamp was used to investigate ionic currents that could influence firing patterns in calyx terminals. Underlying K(Ca) conductances have been described in vestibular ganglion cells, but their presence in afferent terminals has not been investigated previously. Apamin, a selective blocker of SK-type calcium-activated K+ channels, was tested on calyx afferent terminals isolated from gerbil semicircular canals during postnatal days 1–50. Lowering extracellular calcium or application of apamin (20–500 nM) reduced slowly activating outward currents in voltage clamp. Apamin also reduced the action potential afterhyperpolarization (AHP) in whole-cell current clamp, but only after the first two postnatal weeks. K+ channel expression increased during the first postnatal month, and SK channels were found to contribute to the AHP, which may in turn influence discharge regularity in calyx vestibular afferents.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 5, 2011
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