Date of this Version
High single-channel conductance K+ channels, which respond jointly to membrane depolarization and micromolar concentrations of intracellular Ca2+ ions, arise from extensive cell-specific alternative splicing of pore-forming α-subunit mRNAs. Here, we report the discovery of an endogenous BKCa channel α-subunit intron-containing mRNA in the cytoplasm of hippocampal neurons. This partially processed mRNA, which comprises ≈10% of the total BKCa channel α-subunit mRNAs, is distributed in a gradient throughout the somatodendritic space. We selectively reduced endogenous cytoplasmic levels of this intron-containing transcript by RNA interference without altering levels of the mature splice forms of the BKCa channel mRNAs. In doing so, we could demonstrate that changes in a unique BKCa channel α-subunit introncontaining splice variant mRNA can greatly impact the distribution of the BKCa channel protein to dendritic spines and intrinsic firing properties of hippocampal neurons. These data suggest a new regulatory mechanism for modulating the membrane properties and ion channel gradients of hippocampal neurons.
dendrite, epilepsy, intron-retention, KCNMA1, local splicing
Date Posted: 25 August 2008
This document has been peer reviewed.