Journal of Comparative Neurology
Calcium activity has been implicated in many neurodevelopmental events, including the specification of neurotransmitter phenotypes. Higher levels of calcium activity lead to an increased number of inhibitory neural phenotypes, whereas lower levels of calcium activity lead to excitatory neural phenotypes. Voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) allow for rapid calcium entry and are expressed during early neural stages, making them likely regulators of activity-dependent neurotransmitter phenotype specification. To test this hypothesis, multiplex fluorescent in situ hybridization was used to characterize the coexpression of eight VGCC alpha 1 subunits with the excitatory and inhibitory neural markers xVGlut1 and xVIAAT in Xenopus laevis embryos. VGCC coexpression was higher with xVGlut1 than xVIAAT, especially in the hindbrain, spinal cord, and cranial nerves. Calcium activity was also analyzed on a single-cell level, and spike frequency was correlated with the expression of VGCC alpha 1 subunits in cell culture. Cells expressing Ca(V)2.1 and Ca(V)2.2 displayed increased calcium spiking compared with cells not expressing this marker. The VGCC antagonist diltiazem and agonist (-)BayK 8644 were used to manipulate calcium activity. Diltiazem exposure increased the number of glutamatergic cells and decreased the number of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic cells, whereas (2) BayK 8644 exposure decreased the number of glutamatergic cells without having an effect on the number of GABAergic cells. Given that the expression and functional manipulation of VGCCs are correlated with neurotransmitter phenotype in some, but not all, experiments, VGCCs likely act in combination with a variety of other signaling factors to determine neuronal phenotype specification. (C) 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Lewis, B. B., Miller, L. E., Herbst, W. A., & Saha, M. S. (2014). The role of voltage‐gated calcium channels in neurotransmitter phenotype specification: Coexpression and functional analysis in Xenopus laevis. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 522(11), 2518-2531.