A population of mouse embryonic stem (ES)-derived neural stem cells (named NS cells) that exhibits traits reminiscent of radial glia-like cell population and that can be homogeneously expanded in monolayer while remaining stable and highly neurogenic over multiple passages has been recently discovered. This novel population has provided a unique in vitro system in which to investigate physiological events occurring as stem cells lose multipotency and terminally differentiate. Here we analysed the timing, quality and quantity of the appearance of the excitability properties of differentiating NS cells which have been long-term expanded in vitro. To this end, we studied the biophysical properties of voltage-dependent Na(+) currents as an electrophysiological readout for neuronal maturation stages of differentiating NS cells toward the generation of fully functional neurons, since the expression of neuronal voltage-gated Na(+) channels is an essential hallmark of neuronal differentiation and crucial for signal transmission in the nervous system. Using the whole cell and single-channel cell-attached variations of the patch-clamp technique we found that the Na(+) currents in NS cells showed substantial electrophysiological changes during in vitro neuronal differentiation, consisting mainly in an increase of Na(+) current density and in a shift of the steady-state activation and inactivation curves toward more negative and more positive potentials respectively. The changes in the Na(+) channel system were closely related with the ability of differentiating NS cells to generate action potentials, and could therefore be exploited as an appropriate electrophysiological marker of ES-derived NS cells undergoing functional neuronal maturatio
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.