Expression of olfactory-type cyclic nucleotide-gated channels in rat cortical astrocytes

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Cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels are nonselective cation channels activated by cyclic AMP (cAMP) or cyclic GMP (cGMP). They were originally identified in retinal and olfactory receptors, but evidence has also emerged for their expression in several mammalian brain areas. Because cGMP and cAMP control important aspects of glial cell physiology, we wondered whether CNG channels are expressed in astrocytes, the most functionally relevant glial cells in the CNS. Immunoblot and immunofluorescence experiments demonstrated expression of the CNG channel olfactory-type A subunit, CNGA2, in cultured rat cortical astrocytes. In patch-clamp experiments, currents elicited in these cells by voltage ramps from -100 to +100 mV in the presence of the cGMP analogue, dB-cGMP, were significantly reduced by the CNG channel blockers, L-cis-diltiazem (LCD) and Cd(2+) . The reversal potentials of the LCD- and Cd(2+) -sensitive currents were more positive than that of K(+) , as expected for a mixed cation current. Noninactivating, voltage-independent currents were also elicited by extracellular application of the membrane permeant cGMP analogue, 8-Br-cGMP. These effects were blocked by LCD and were mimicked by natriuretic peptide receptor activation and inhibition of phosphodiesterase activity. Voltage-independent, LCD-sensitive currents were also elicited by 8-Br-cGMP in astrocytes of hippocampal and neocortical brain slices. Immunohistochemistry confirmed a broad distribution of CNG channels in astrocytes of the rat forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain. These findings suggest that CNG channels are downstream targets of cyclic nucleotides in astrocytes, and they may be involved in the glial-mediated regulation of CNS functions under physiological and pathological conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1405
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Animals
  • Astrocytes
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Cyclic GMP
  • Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Cation Channels
  • Diltiazem
  • Ion Channel Gating
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


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