Bell, Thomas J

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  • Publication
    Cytoplasmic BKCa channel intron-containing mRNAs contribute to the intrinsic excitability of hippocampal neurons
    (2008-02-12) Bell, Thomas J; Miyashiro, Kevin Y; Sul, Jai-Yoon; Jochems, Jeanine; Meaney, David F; Cantor, Charles R; Parsons, Thomas D; McCullough, Ronald; Buckley, Peter T; Haydon, Phil; Eberwine, James
    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.