In this study, we reveal the existence of a novel use-dependent phenomenon in potassium channels, which we refer to as cumulative activation (CA). CA consists of an increase in current amplitude in response to repetitive depolarizing step pulses to the same potential. CA persists for up to 20 s and is similar to a phenomenon called "voltage-dependent facilitation" observed in some calcium channels. The KVS-1 K+ channel, which exhibits CA, is a rapidly activating and inactivating voltage-dependent potassium channel expressed in chemosensory and other neurons of Caenorhabditis elegans. It is unusual in being most closely related to the Shab (Kv2) family of potassium channels, which typically behave like delayed rectifier K+ channels in other species. The magnitude of CA depends on the frequency, voltage, and duration of the depolarizing step pulse. CA also radically changes the activation and inactivation kinetics of the channel, suggesting that the channel may undergo a physical modification in a use-dependent manner; thus, a model that closely simulates the behavior of the channel postulates the existence of two populations of channels, unmodified and modified. Use-dependent changes in the behavior of potassium channels, such as CA observed in KVS-1, could be involved in functional mechanisms of cellular plasticity such as synaptic depression that represent the cellular basis of learning and memory.
- Potassium channels
- Use dependency