The role of voltage-dependent potassium channels in myelinated axons
Optic Nerve. Sodium channels green
Caspr red potassium channels blue
Voltage-dependent potassium channels have a reciprocal relationship with sodium channels, and are located primarily in clusters several micrometers on either side of the node, as seen in the top figure. We have shown that axonal potassium channels play important roles during both early development and in disease. Over the first few postnatal days, Shaker-type potassium channels stabilize conduction and prevent repetitive firing. In disease, following demyelination the juxtaparanodal potassium channel clusters break up. When remyelination begins, these channels cluster first within the nodal gap, and impede the restoration of function. One aspect of our work involves a search for pharmacological agents that act with high specificity on these potassium channels to improve conduction in several disease states.
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