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Semaphorin3A Induces Acute Changes in Membrane Excitability in Spiral Ganglion Neurons In Vitro.
The development and survival of spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) are dependent on multiple trophic factors as well as membrane electrical activity. Semaphorins (Sema) constitute a family of membrane-associated and secreted proteins that have garnered significant attention as a potential SGN "navigator" during cochlea development. Previous studies using mutant mice demonstrated that Sema3A plays a role in the SGN pathfinding. The mechanisms, however, by which Sema3A shapes SGNs firing behaviour are not known. In these studies, we found that Sema3A plays a novel role in regulating SGN resting membrane potential and excitability. Using dissociated SGN from pre-hearing (P3-P5) and post-hearing mice (P12-P15), we recorded membrane potentials using whole-cell patch clamp recording techniques in apical and basal SGN populations. Recombinant Sema3A was applied to examine the effects on intrinsic membrane properties and action potentials evoked by current injections. Apical and basal SGNs from newborn mice treated with recombinant Sema3A (100 ng/ml) displayed a higher resting membrane potential, higher threshold, decreased amplitude, and prolonged latency and duration of spikes. Although a similar phenomenon was observed in SGNs from post-hearing mice, the resting membrane potential was essentially indistinguishable before and after Sema3A exposure. Sema3A-mediated changes in membrane excitability was associated with a significant decrease in K+ and Ca2+ currents. Sema3A acts through linopirdine-sensitive K+ channels in apical, but not in the basal SGNs. Therefore, Sema3A induces differential effects in SGN membrane excitability that are dependent on age and location, and constitutes an additional early and novel effect of Sema3A SGNs in vitro. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.