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Resurgent Na+ currents promote ultrafast spiking in projection neurons that drive fine motor control

By Benjamin Zemel, Alexande A. Nevue, Andre Dagostin, Peter V. Lovell, Claudio V. Mello, Henrique von Gersdorff

Posted 10 Sep 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.09.09.459677

The underlying mechanisms that promote precise spiking in upper motor neurons controlling fine motor skills are not well understood. Here we report that projection neurons in the adult zebra finch song nucleus RA display: 1) robust high-frequency firing, 2) ultra-narrow spike waveforms, 3) superfast Na+ current inactivation kinetics and 4) large resurgent Na+ currents (INaR). These properties of songbird pallial motor neurons closely resemble those of specialized large pyramidal neurons in mammalian primary motor cortex. They emerge during the early phases of song development in males, but not females, coinciding with a complete switch of Na+ channel subunit expression from Nav{beta}3 to Nav{beta}4. Dynamic clamping and dialysis of Nav{beta}4 C-terminal peptides into juvenile RA neurons provide evidence that Nav{beta}4, and its associated INaR, promote neuronal excitability. We thus propose that INaR can profoundly impact the excitability of upper motor neurons that are required for the execution of fine motor skills.

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