Jutta Engel and Simone Kurt: Role of voltage-gated Ca2+ channel alpha2delta subunits for spiral ganglion neurons and afferent auditory processing

Voltage-gated Ca2+ channels and postsynaptic AMPA receptors guarantee fast and temporally precise signalling in inner hair cells and neurons of the auditory pathway. Their properties are crucial for temporal precision and fidelity of synaptic transmission. In this project, we will analyse the contribution of auxiliary Ca2+ channel subunits alpha2delta-1,-2, and -3 to different types of Ca2+ currents of spiral ganglion neurons in primary cultures. Further, we will examine the role of alpha2delta-1,-2, and -3 for the size and morphology of auditory nerve fiber terminals at bushy cells in the ventral cochlear nucleus. Together with in vivo recordings from neurons in the inferior colliculus and auditory discrimination learning experiments by Simone Kurt and her group we attempt to study the functional and structural importance of alpha2delta Ca2+ channel subunits in auditory processing.

Left: Whole-cell Ca2+ current before and after block of P/Q-type channels with agatoxin of a cultured mouse spiral ganglion neuron, P20 + 3 DIV. Middle: Whole-mount preparation of mouse spiral ganglion neurons labelled for P/Q-type channels (red), beta-tubulin (green) and nuclei (blue). Right: Bushy cells in the AVCN labelled for beta-tubulin (green) and the active zone marker VGLUT-1 (red). Scale bars: 10 µm. Source: Friederike Stephani & J. Engel, unpublished.

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Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft