Primary structure, functional characterization and developmental expression of the ascidian Kv4-class potassium channel

Koichi Nakajo, You Katsuyama, Fumihito Ono, Yukio Ohtsuka, Yasushi Okamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Ascidians belong to the primitive chordates and their larvae show symmetrical beating of the tail, which is reminiscent of the swimming pattern in primitive vertebrates. Since ascidian larva contains only a small number of neurons in their entire larval nervous system, they will potentially provide a simple model for the study of animal locomotion. In a step towards the goal of establishing the molecular basis underlying ascidian larval neurophysiology, we describe here a Kv4 class of voltage-gated potassium channel, TuKv4, from Halocynthia roretzi. Whole mount in situ hybridization indicates that TuKv4 is expressed in most of larval neurons including motor neurons. TuKv4-currents reconstituted in Xenopus oocytes show currents with similar properties to the lower-threshold A-type currents from cleavage-arrested ascidian blastomeres of neural lineage. However, the voltage-dependency of the steady-state inactivation and activation was shifted leftward by 20 mV, as compared with native A-type currents, suggesting that other components may be required to restore full function of the Kv4 channel. Unexpectedly, another isoform lacking C-terminal cytoplasmic region was also isolated. This truncated isoform did not lead to a functional current in Xenopus oocytes. RT-PCR analysis showed that the truncated form is transiently expressed during larval development, suggesting some developmental role for potassium channel expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroscience Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Ascidian
  • Kv4 potassium channel
  • Locomotion
  • Motor neuron
  • Truncated form

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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