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Publication Detail
Synapse development is regulated by microglial THIK-1 K+ channels.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Izquierdo P, Shiina H, Hirunpattarasilp C, Gillis G, Attwell D
  • Publisher:
    National Academy of Sciences
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Status:
  • Country:
    United States
  • Print ISSN:
  • PII:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    microglia, phagocytosis, synaptic pruning
Microglia are the resident immune cells of the central nervous system. They constantly survey the brain parenchyma for redundant synapses, debris, or dying cells, which they remove through phagocytosis. Microglial ramification, motility, and cytokine release are regulated by tonically active THIK-1 K+ channels on the microglial plasma membrane. Here, we examined whether these channels also play a role in phagocytosis. Using pharmacological blockers and THIK-1 knockout (KO) mice, we found that a lack of THIK-1 activity approximately halved both microglial phagocytosis and marker levels for the lysosomes that degrade phagocytically removed material. These changes may reflect a decrease of intracellular [Ca2+]i activity, which was observed when THIK-1 activity was reduced, since buffering [Ca2+]i reduced phagocytosis. Less phagocytosis is expected to result in impaired pruning of synapses. In the hippocampus, mice lacking THIK-1 expression had an increased number of anatomically and electrophysiologically defined glutamatergic synapses during development. This resulted from an increased number of presynaptic terminals, caused by impaired removal by THIK-1 KO microglia. The dependence of synapse number on THIK-1 K+ channels, which control microglial surveillance and phagocytic ability, implies that changes in the THIK-1 expression level in disease states may contribute to altering neural circuit function.
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