Transient potassium currents regulate the discharge patterns of dorsal cochlear nucleus pyramidal cells

Patrick O. Kanold, Paul B. Manis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Pyramidal cells in the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) show three distinct temporal discharge patterns in response to sound: 'pauser,' 'buildup,' and 'chopper.' Similar discharge patterns are seen in vitro and depend on the voltage from which the cell is depolarized. It has been proposed that an inactivating A-type K+ current (I(KI)) might play a critical role in generating the three different patterns. In this study we examined the characteristics of transient currents in DCN pyramidal cells to evaluate this hypothesis. Morphologically identified pyramidal cells in rat brain slices (P11-P17) exhibited the three voltage-dependent discharge patterns. Two inactivating currents were present in outside-out patches from pyramidal cells: a rapidly inactivating (I(KIF), τ ~11 msec) current insensitive to block by tetraethylammonium (TEA) and variably blocked by 4-aminopyridine (4- AP) with half-inactivation near -85 mV, and a slowly inactivating TEA-and 4- AP-sensitive current (I(KIS), τ ~145 msec) with half-inactivation near -35 mV. Recovery from inactivation at 34°C was described by a single exponential with a time constant of 10-30 msec, similar to the rate at which first spike latency increases with the duration of a hyperpolarizing prepulse. Acutely isolated cells also possessed a rapidly activating (<1 msec at 22°C) transient current that activated near -45 mV and showed half-inactivation near -80 mV. A model demonstrated that the deinactivation of I(KIF) was correlated with the discharge patterns. Overall, the properties of the fast inactivating K+ current were consistent with their proposed role in shaping the discharge pattern of DCN pyramidal cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2195-2208
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 1999


  • Auditory system
  • Cochlear nucleus
  • Hearing
  • Inactivation
  • Intrinsic discharge patterns
  • Outside-out patches
  • Potassium channels
  • Transient potassium currents
  • Voltage-clamp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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