Bundles of Brain Microtubules Generate Electrical Oscillations.

Author: Cantero MDR1, Villa Etchegoyen C2, Perez PL1, Scarinci N1, Cantiello HF3
Author Information:
1Laboratorio de Canales Iónicos, Instituto Multidisciplinario de Salud, Tecnología y Desarrollo (IMSaTeD, UNSE-CONICET), Santiago del Estero, Argentina.
2Segunda Cátedra de Farmacología, Facultad de Medicina, UBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
3Laboratorio de Canales Iónicos, Instituto Multidisciplinario de Salud, Tecnología y Desarrollo (IMSaTeD, UNSE-CONICET), Santiago del Estero, Argentina. hcantiello@yahoo.com.ar.
Conference/Journal: Sci Rep.
Date published: 2018 Aug 9
Other: Volume ID: 8 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 11899 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-30453-2. , Word Count: 206


Microtubules (MTs) are long cylindrical structures of the cytoskeleton that control cell division, intracellular transport, and the shape of cells. MTs also form bundles, which are particularly prominent in neurons, where they help define axons and dendrites. MTs are bio-electrochemical transistors that form nonlinear electrical transmission lines. However, the electrical properties of most MT structures remain largely unknown. Here we show that bundles of brain MTs spontaneously generate electrical oscillations and bursts of electrical activity similar to action potentials. Under intracellular-like conditions, voltage-clamped MT bundles displayed electrical oscillations with a prominent fundamental frequency at 39 Hz that progressed through various periodic regimes. The electrical oscillations represented, in average, a 258% change in the ionic conductance of the MT structures. Interestingly, voltage-clamped membrane-permeabilized neurites of cultured mouse hippocampal neurons were also capable of both, generating electrical oscillations, and conducting the electrical signals along the length of the structure. Our findings indicate that electrical oscillations are an intrinsic property of brain MT bundles, which may have important implications in the control of various neuronal functions, including the gating and regulation of cytoskeleton-regulated excitable ion channels and electrical activity that may aid and extend to higher brain functions such as memory and consciousness.

PMID: 30093720 PMCID: PMC6085364 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-30453-2

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