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Identifying Candidate Genes that Underlie Cellular pH Sensitivity in Serotonin Neurons Using Transcriptomics: A Potential Role for Kir5.1 Channels. Front Cell Neurosci 2017;11:34



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Ventilation is continuously adjusted by a neural network to maintain blood gases and pH. Acute CO2 and/or pH regulation requires neural feedback from brainstem cells that encode CO2/pH to modulate ventilation, including but not limited to brainstem serotonin (5-HT) neurons. Brainstem 5-HT neurons modulate ventilation and are stimulated by hypercapnic acidosis, the sensitivity of which increases with increasing postnatal age. The proper function of brainstem 5-HT neurons, particularly during post-natal development is critical given that multiple abnormalities in the 5-HT system have been identified in victims of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Here, we tested the hypothesis that there are age-dependent increases in expression of pH-sensitive ion channels in brainstem 5-HT neurons, which may underlie their cellular CO2/pH sensitivity. Midline raphe neurons were acutely dissociated from neonatal and mature transgenic SSePet-eGFP rats [which have enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) expression in all 5-HT neurons] and sorted with fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) into 5-HT-enriched and non-5-HT cell pools for subsequent RNA extraction, cDNA library preparation and RNA sequencing. Overlapping differential expression analyses pointed to age-dependent shifts in multiple ion channels, including but not limited to the pH-sensitive potassium ion (K+) channel genes kcnj10 (Kir4.1), kcnj16 (Kir5.1), kcnk1 (TWIK-1), kcnk3 (TASK-1) and kcnk9 (TASK-3). Intracellular contents isolated from single adult eGFP+ 5-HT neurons confirmed gene expression of Kir4.1, Kir5.1 and other K+ channels, but also showed heterogeneity in the expression of multiple genes. 5-HT neuron-enriched cell pools from selected post-natal ages showed increases in Kir4.1, Kir5.1, and TWIK-1, fitting with age-dependent increases in Kir4.1 and Kir5.1 protein expression in raphe tissue samples. Immunofluorescence imaging confirmed Kir5.1 protein was co-localized to brainstem neurons and glia including 5-HT neurons as expected. However, Kir4.1 protein expression was restricted to glia, suggesting that it may not contribute to 5-HT neuron pH sensitivity. Although there are caveats to this approach, the data suggest that pH-sensitive Kir5.1 channels may underlie cellular CO2/pH chemosensitivity in brainstem 5-HT neurons.

Author List

Puissant MM, Mouradian GC Jr, Liu P, Hodges MR


Matthew R. Hodges PhD Associate Professor in the Physiology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Pengyuan Liu PhD Adjunct Professor in the Physiology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Gary C. Mouradian PhD Instructor in the Physiology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

jenkins-FCD Prod-484 8aa07fc50b7f6d102f3dda2f4c7056ff84294d1d