Different localizations and functions of L-type and N-type calcium channels during development of hippocampal neurons

Elena Pravettoni, Alberto Bacci, Silvia Coco, Paolo Forbicini, Michela Matteoli, Claudia Verderio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using immunocytochemical assays and patch-clamp and calcium-imaging recordings, we demonstrate that L-type and N-type calcium channels have distinct patterns of expression and distribution and play different functional roles during hippocampal neuron differentiation. L-type channels, which support the depolarization-induced calcium influx in neurons from the very early developmental stages, are functionally restricted to the somatodendritic compartment throughout neuronal development and play a crucial role in supporting neurite outgrowth at early developmental stages. N-type channels, which start contributing at later neuronal differentiation stages (3-4 DIV), are also functionally expressed in the axons of immature neurons. At this developmental stage preceding synaptogenesis, N-type (but not L-type) channels are involved in controlling synaptic vesicle recycling. It is only at later developmental stages (10-12 DIV), when the neurons have established a clear axodendritic polarity and form synaptic contacts, that N-type channels are progressively excluded from the axon. Electrophysiological recordings of single neurons growing in microislands revealed that synaptic maturation coincides with a progressive increase in N-type channels in the somatodendritic region and a progressive decrease in the N-type channels supporting glutamate release from the presynaptic terminal. These results indicate that L-type and N-type calcium channels undergo dynamic, developmentally regulated rearrangements in regional distribution and function and also suggest that different mechanisms may be involved in the sorting and/or stabilization of these two types of channels in different plasma membrane domains during neuronal differentiation. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-594
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2000


  • ω-conotoxin-GVIA
  • Calcium channels
  • Hippocampal neurons
  • Neuronal polarity
  • Nifedipine
  • Synaptogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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