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The Epilepsy-Related Protein PCDH19 Regulates Tonic Inhibition, GABAAR Kinetics, and the Intrinsic Excitability of Hippocampal Neurons.


ABSTRACT: PCDH19 encodes for protocadherin-19 (PCDH19), a cell-adhesion molecule of the cadherin superfamily preferentially expressed in the brain. PCDH19 mutations cause a neurodevelopmental syndrome named epileptic encephalopathy, early infantile, 9 (EIEE9) characterized by seizures associated with cognitive and behavioral deficits. We recently reported that PCDH19 binds the alpha subunits of GABAA receptors (GABAARs), modulating their surface availability and miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs). Here, we investigated whether PCDH19 regulatory function on GABAARs extends to the extrasynaptic receptor pool that mediates tonic current. In fact, the latter shapes neuronal excitability and network properties at the base of information processing. By combining patch-clamp recordings in whole-cell and cell-attached configurations, we provided a functional characterization of primary hippocampal neurons from embryonic rats of either sex expressing a specific PCDH19 short hairpin (sh)RNA. We first demonstrated that PCDH19 downregulation reduces GABAAR-mediated tonic current, evaluated by current shift and baseline noise analysis. Next, by single-channel recordings, we showed that PCDH19 regulates GABAARs kinetics without altering their conductance. In particular, GABAARs of shRNA-expressing neurons preferentially exhibit brief openings at the expense of long ones, thus displaying a flickering behavior. Finally, we showed that PCDH19 downregulation reduces the rheobase and increases the frequency of action potential firing, thus indicating neuronal hyperexcitability. These findings establish PCDH19 as a critical determinant of GABAAR-mediated tonic transmission and GABAARs gating, and provide the first mechanistic insights into PCDH19-related hyperexcitability and comorbidities.

SUBMITTER: Serratto GM 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7541378 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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