Action potential firing rates are generally limited by the refractory period, which depends on the recovery from inactivation of voltage-gated Na channels. In cerebellar Purkinje neurons, the kinetics of Na channels appear specialized for rapid firing. Upon depolarization, an endogenous open-channel blocker rapidly terminates current flow but prevents binding of the "fast" inactivation gate. Upon repolarization, unbinding of the blocker produces "resurgent" Na current while allowing channels to recover rapidly. Because other cerebellar neurons, including granule cells, unipolar brush cells, and neurons of the cerebellar nuclei, also fire rapidly, we tested whether these cells might also express Na channels with resurgent kinetics. Neurons were acutely isolated from mice and rats, and TTX-sensitive Na currents were recorded under voltage clamp. Unlike Purkinje cells, the other cerebellar neurons produced only tiny resurgent currents in solutions optimized for voltage-clamping Na currents (50 mM Na+; Co2+ substitution for Ca2+). Under more physiological ionic conditions (155 mM Na+; 2 mM Ca2+ with 0.03 mM Cd2+), however, granule cells, unipolar brush cells, and cerebellar nuclear cells all produced robust resurgent currents. The increase in resurgent current, which was greater than predicted by the Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz equation, appeared to result from a combination of knock-off of open-channel blockers by permeating ions as well as relief of divalent block at negative potentials. These results indicate that resurgent current is typical of many cerebellar neurons and suggest that rapid open-channel block and unblock may be a widespread mechanism for restoration of Na channel availability in rapidly firing neurons.
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