BK channels localize to the paranodal junction and regulate action potentials in myelinated axons of cerebellar Purkinje cells

Moritoshi Hirono, Yasuhiro Ogawa, Kaori Misono, Daniel R. Zollinger, James Trimmer, Matthew N. Rasband, Hiroaki Misonou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In myelinated axons, K<sup>+</sup> channels are clustered in distinct membrane domains to regulate action potentials (APs). At nodes of Ranvier, Kv7 channels are expressed with Na<sup>+</sup> channels, whereas Kv1 channels flank nodes at juxtaparanodes. Regulation of axonal APs by K<sup>+</sup> channels would be particularly important in fast-spiking projection neurons such as cerebellar Purkinje cells. Here, we show that BK/Slo1 channels are clustered at the paranodal junctions of myelinated Purkinje cell axons of rat and mouse. The paranodal junction is formed by a set of cell-adhesion molecules, including Caspr, between the node and juxtaparanodes in which it separates nodal from internodal membrane domains. Remarkably, only Purkinje cell axons have detectable paranodal BK channels, whose clustering requires the formation of the paranodal junction via Caspr. Thus, BK channels occupy this unique domain in Purkinje cell axons along with the other K<sup>+</sup> channel complexes at nodes and juxtaparanodes. To investigate the physiological role of novel paranodal BK channels, we examined the effect of BK channel blockers on antidromic AP conduction. We found that local application of blockers to the axon resulted in a significant increase in antidromic AP failure at frequencies above 100 Hz. We also found that Ni<sup>2+</sup> elicited a similar effect on APs, indicating the involvement of Ni<sup>2+</sup>-sensitive Ca<sup>2+</sup> channels. Furthermore, axonal application of BK channel blockers decreased the inhibitory synaptic response in the deep cerebellar nuclei. Thus, paranodal BK channels uniquely support high-fidelity firing of APs in myelinated Purkinje cell axons, thereby underpinning the output of the cerebellar cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7082-7094
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 6 2015


  • Action potential
  • Axon
  • Cerebellum
  • Potassium channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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