Departmental Papers (BE)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

February 2008


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.


Reprinted from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, February 2008, Volume 105, Issue 6, pages 1901-1906.


dendrite, epilepsy, intron-retention, KCNMA1, local splicing



Date Posted: 25 August 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.