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Science 327 (5961): 52-58

Copyright © 2010 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Dendritic Mechanisms Underlying Rapid Synaptic Activation of Fast-Spiking Hippocampal Interneurons

Hua Hu,1,2 Marco Martina,1,3 Peter Jonas1,4,*

Abstract: Fast-spiking, parvalbumin-expressing basket cells (BCs) are important for feedforward and feedback inhibition. During network activity, BCs respond with short latency and high temporal precision. It is thought that the specific properties of input synapses are responsible for rapid recruitment. However, a potential contribution of active dendritic conductances has not been addressed. We combined confocal imaging and patch-clamp techniques to obtain simultaneous somatodendritic recordings from BCs. Action potentials were initiated in the BC axon and backpropagated into the dendrites with reduced amplitude and little activity dependence. These properties were explained by a high K+ to Na+ conductance ratio in BC dendrites. Computational analysis indicated that dendritic K+ channels convey unique integration properties to BCs, leading to the rapid and temporally precise activation by excitatory inputs.

1 Institute of Physiology I, Universität Freiburg, Engesserstraße 4, D-79108 Freiburg, Germany.
2 Department of Physiology at Institute of Basic Medical Sciences and Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience (CMBN), University of Oslo, Blindern, NO-0317 Oslo, Norway.
3 Department of Physiology, The Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University, 303 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.
4 Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, Albertstraße 19, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: peter.jonas{at}

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