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Voltage-gated potassium channels ensure action potential shape fidelity in distal axons

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Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Accepted/In press1 Apr 2021

King's Authors


The initiation and propagation of the action potential (AP) along an axon allows neurons to convey information rapidly and across distant sites. Although AP properties have typically been characterised at the soma and proximal axon, the propagation of APs towards distal axonal domains of mammalian CNS neurons remains limited. We used Genetically-Encoded Voltage Indicators (GEVIs) to image APs with sub-millisecond temporal resolution simultaneously at different locations along the long axons of dissociated hippocampal neurons from rat embryos of either sex. We found that APs became sharper and showed remarkable fidelity as they traveled towards distal axons, even during a high frequency train. Blocking voltage-gated potassium channels (Kv) with 4-AP resulted in an increase in AP width in all compartments, which was stronger at distal locations and exacerbated during AP trains. We conclude that the higher levels of Kv channel activity in distal axons serves to sustain AP fidelity, conveying a reliable digital signal to presynaptic boutons.

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