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Jepson, J., Sheldon, A., Shahidullah, M., Fei, H., Koh, K., Levitan, I.B. (2013). Cell-specific fine-tuning of neuronal excitability by differential expression of modulator protein isoforms.  J. Neurosci. 33(42): 16767--16777.
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Research paper

SLOB (SLOWPOKE-binding protein) modulates the Drosophila SLOWPOKE calcium-activated potassium channel. We have shown previously that SLOB deletion or RNAi knockdown decreases excitability of neurosecretory pars intercerebralis (PI) neurons in the adult Drosophila brain. In contrast, we found that SLOB deletion/knockdown enhances neurotransmitter release from motor neurons at the fly larval neuromuscular junction, suggesting an increase in excitability. Because two prominent SLOB isoforms, SLOB57 and SLOB71, modulate SLOWPOKE channels in opposite directions in vitro, we investigated whether divergent expression patterns of these two isoforms might underlie the differential modulation of excitability in PI and motor neurons. By performing detailed in vitro and in vivo analysis, we found strikingly different modes of regulatory control by the slob57 and slob71 promoters. The slob71, but not slob57, promoter contains binding sites for the Hunchback and Mirror transcriptional repressors. Furthermore, several core promoter elements that are absent in the slob57 promoter coordinately drive robust expression of a luciferase vector by the slob71 promoter in vitro. In addition, we visualized the expression patterns of the slob57 and slob71 promoters in vivo and found clear spatiotemporal differences in promoter activity. SLOB57 is expressed prominently in adult PI neurons, whereas larval motor neurons exclusively express SLOB71. In contrast, at the larval neuromuscular junction, SLOB57 expression appears to be restricted mainly to a subset of glial cells. Our results illustrate how the use of alternative transcriptional start sites within an ion channel modulator locus coupled with functionally relevant alternative splicing can be used to fine-tune neuronal excitability in a cell-specific manner.

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PubMed Central ID
PMC3797381 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Publication Type
    J. Neurosci.
    Journal of Neuroscience
    Publication Year
    0270-6474 1529-2401
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