Functional responses of the hippocampus to hyperexcitability depend on directed, neuron-specific KCNQ2 K+ channel plasticity

Chase M. Carver, Shayne D. Hastings, Mileah E. Cook, Mark S. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


M-type (KCNQ2/3) K+ channels play dominant roles in regulation of active and passive neuronal discharge properties such as resting membrane potential, spike-frequency adaptation, and hyper-excitatory states. However, plasticity of M-channel expression and function in nongenetic forms of epileptogenesis are still not well understood. Using transgenic mice with an EGFP reporter to detect expression maps of KCNQ2 mRNA, we assayed hyperexcitability-induced alterations in KCNQ2 transcription across subregions of the hippocampus. Pilocarpine and pentylenetetrazol chemoconvulsant models of seizure induction were used, and brain tissue examined 48 hr later. We observed increases in KCNQ2 mRNA in CA1 and CA3 pyramidal neurons after chemoconvulsant-induced hyperexcitability at 48 hr, but no significant change was observed in dentate gyrus (DG) granule cells. Using chromogenic in situ hybridization assays, changes to KCNQ3 transcription were not detected after hyper-excitation challenge, but the results for KCNQ2 paralleled those using the KCNQ2-mRNA reporter mice. In mice 7 days after pilocarpine challenge, levels of KCNQ2 mRNA were similar in all regions to those from control mice. In brain-slice electrophysiology recordings, CA1 pyramidal neurons demonstrated increased M-current amplitudes 48 hr after hyperexcitability; however, there were no significant changes to DG granule cell M-current amplitude. Traumatic brain injury induced significantly greater KCNQ2 expression in the hippocampal hemisphere that was ipsilateral to the trauma. In vivo, after a secondary challenge with subconvulsant dose of pentylenetetrazole, control mice were susceptible to tonic–clonic seizures, whereas mice administered the M-channel opener retigabine were protected from such seizures. This study demonstrates that increased excitatory activity promotes KCNQ2 upregulation in the hippocampus in a cell-type specific manner. Such novel ion channel expressional plasticity may serve as a compensatory mechanism after a hyperexcitable event, at least in the short term. The upregulation described could be potentially leveraged in anticonvulsant enhancement of KCNQ2 channels as therapeutic target for preventing onset of epileptogenic seizures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-455
Number of pages21
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • KCNQ channels
  • epileptogenesis
  • hippocampus
  • hyperexcitability
  • plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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