Ionic channel function in action potential generation: current perspective

Molecular Neurobiology
Gytis Baranauskas


Over 50 years ago, Hodgkin and Huxley laid down the foundations of our current understanding of ionic channels. An impressive progress has been made during the following years that culminated in the revelation of the details of potassium channel structure. Nevertheless, even today, we cannot separate well currents recorded in central mammalian neurons. Many modern concepts about the function of sodium and potassium currents are based on experiments performed in nonmammalian cells. The recent recognition of the fast delayed rectifier current indicates that we need to reevaluate the biophysical role of sodium and potassium currents. This review will consider high quality voltage clamp data obtained from the soma of central mammalian neurons in the view of our current knowledge about proteins forming ionic channels. Fast sodium currents and three types of outward potassium currents, the delayed rectifier, the subthreshold A-type, and the D-type potassium currents, are discussed here. An updated current classification with biophysical role of each current subtype is provided. This review shows that details of kinetics of both sodium and outward potassium currents differ significantly from the classical descriptions and these differ...Continue Reading


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