Neurons in vertebrate central nervous systems initiate and conduct sodium action potentials in distinct subcellular compartments that differ architecturally and electrically. Here, we report several unanticipated passive and active properties of the cerebellar granule cell's unmyelinated axon. Whereas spike initiation at the axon initial segment relies on sodium channel (Na v)-associated fibroblast growth factor homologous factor (FHF) proteins to delay Na v inactivation, distal axonal Na v s show little FHF association or FHF requirement for high-frequency transmission, velocity and waveforms of conducting action potentials. In addition, leak conductance density along the distal axon is estimated as <1% that of somatodendritic membrane. The faster inactivation rate of FHF-free Na v s together with very low axonal leak conductance serves to minimize ionic fluxes and energetic demand during repetitive spike conduction and at rest. The absence of FHFs from Na v s at nodes of Ranvier in the central nervous system suggests a similar mechanism of current flux minimization along myelinated axons.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)