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Epilepsy-associated KCNQ2 channels regulate multiple intrinsic properties of layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons

Niday, Z and Hawkins, VE and Soh, H and Mulkey, DK and Tzingounis, AV (2017) Epilepsy-associated KCNQ2 channels regulate multiple intrinsic properties of layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons. Journal of Neuroscience, 37 (3). pp. 576-586. ISSN 0270-6474

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Abstract

© 2017 the authors. KCNQ2 potassium channels are critical for normal brain function, as both loss-of-function and gain-of-function KCNQ2 variants can lead to various forms of neonatal epilepsy. Despite recent progress, the full spectrum of consequences as a result of KCNQ2 dysfunction in neocortical pyramidal neurons is still unknown. Here, we report that conditional ablation of Kcnq2 from mouse neocortex leads to hyperexcitability of layer 2/3 (L2/3) pyramidal neurons, exhibiting an increased input resistance and action potential frequency, as well as a reduced medium after hyperpolarization (mAHP), a conductance partly mediated by KCNQ2 channels. Importantly, we show that introducing the KCNQ2 loss-of-function variant KCNQ2I205V into L2/3 pyramidal neurons using in utero electroporation also results in a hyperexcitable phenotype similar to the conditional knock-out. KCNQ2I205V has a right-shifted conductance-to-voltage relationship, suggesting loss of KCNQ2 channel activity at subthreshold membrane potentials is sufficient to drive large changes in L2/3 pyramidal neuronal excitability even in the presence of an intact mAHP. We also found that the changes in excitability following Kcnq2 ablation are accompanied by alterations at action potential properties, including action potential amplitude in Kcnq2-null neurons. Importantly, partial inhibition of Nav1.6 channels was sufficient to counteract the hyperexcitability of Kcnq2-null neurons. Therefore, our work shows that loss of KCNQ2 channels alters the intrinsic neuronal excitability and action potential properties of L2/3 pyramidal neurons, and identifies Nav1.6 as a new potential molecular target to reduce excitability in patients with KCNQ2 encephalopathy.

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