Impact on backpropagation of the spatial heterogeneity of sodium channel kinetics in the axon initial segment (Barlow et al., in press)

Model code for: 'Impact on backpropagation of the spatial heterogeneity of sodium channel kinetics in the axon initial segment', provisionally accepted at PLOS Computational Biology.

Experimental motivation: In a variety of neurons, action potentials (APs) initiate at the proximal axon, within a region called the axon initial segment (AIS), which has a high density of voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs) on its membrane. In pyramidal neurons, the proximal AIS has been reported to exhibit a higher proportion of NaVs with gating properties that are “right-shifted” to more depolarized voltages, compared to the distal AIS. Further, recent experiments have revealed that as neurons develop, the spatial distribution of NaV subtypes along the AIS can change substantially, suggesting that neurons tune their excitability by modifying said distribution. When neurons are stimulated axonally, computational modelling has shown that this spatial separation of gating properties in the AIS enhances the backpropagation of APs into the dendrites. In contrast, in the more natural scenario of somatic stimulation, our simulations show that the same distribution can impede backpropagation, suggesting that the choice of orthodromic versus antidromic stimulation can bias or even invert experimental findings regarding the role of NaV subtypes in the AIS. We implemented a range of hypothetical NaV distributions in the AIS of three multicompartmental pyramidal cell models and investigated the precise kinetic mechanisms underlying such effects, as the spatial distribution of NaV subtypes is varied. With axonal stimulation, proximal NaV availability dominates, such that concentrating right-shifted NaVs in the proximal AIS promotes backpropagation. However, with somatic stimulation, the models are insensitive to availability kinetics. Instead, the higher activation threshold of right-shifted NaVs in the AIS impedes backpropagation. Therefore, recently observed developmental changes to the spatial separation and relative proportions of NaV1.2 and NaV1.6 in the AIS differentially impact activation and availability. The observed effects on backpropagation, and potentially learning via its putative role in synaptic plasticity (e.g. through spike-timing-dependent plasticity), are opposite for orthodromic versus antidromic stimulation, which should inform hypotheses about the impact of the developmentally regulated subcellular localization of these NaV subtypes.

Model Type: Axon; Dendrite; Electrogenic pump; Extracellular; Neuron or other electrically excitable cell

Region(s) or Organism(s): Neocortex

Cell Type(s): Neocortex layer 5 pyramidal cell

Currents: I Cl, leak; I Na,t; I Potassium; I Sodium; Na/K pump


Genes: Nav1.2 SCN2A; Nav1.6 SCN8A


Model Concept(s): Action Potentials; Active Dendrites; Detailed Neuronal Models; Ion Channel Kinetics; Reaction-diffusion

Simulation Environment: NEURON; Python

Implementer(s): Barlow, Benjamin Stephen [BBarlow at]


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