Dorsal cochlear nucleus principal neurons, fusiform neurons, display heterogeneous spontaneous action potential activity and thus represent an appropriate model to study the role of different conductances in establishing firing heterogeneity. Particularly, fusiform neurons are divided into quiet, with no spontaneous firing, or active neurons, presenting spontaneous, regular firing. These modes are determined by the expression levels of an intrinsic membrane conductance, an inwardly rectifying potassium current (IKir). We used a computational model to test whether other subthreshold conductances vary homeostatically to maintain membrane excitability constant across the two subtypes. We found that Ih expression covaries specifically with IKir in order to maintain membrane resistance constant. The impact of Ih on membrane resistance is dependent on the level of IKir expression, being much smaller in quiet neurons with bigger IKir, but Ih variations are not relevant for creating the quiet and active phenotypes. We conclude that in fusiform neurons the variations of their different subthreshold conductances are limited to specific conductances in order to create firing heterogeneity and maintain membrane homeostasis.
Ceballos CC, Li S, Roque AC, Tzounopoulos T, Leão RM (2016) Ih Equalizes Membrane Input Resistance in a Heterogeneous Population of Fusiform Neurons in the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus. Front Cell Neurosci 10:249 [PubMed]