Voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels are responsible for initiation and propagation of action potential in the neurons. To explore the mechanisms for chronic heart failure (CHF)-induced baroreflex dysfunction, we measured the expression and current density of Nav channel subunits (Nav1.7, Nav1.8, and Nav1.9) in the aortic baroreceptor neurons and investigated the role of Nav channels on aortic baroreceptor neuron excitability and baroreflex sensitivity in sham and CHF rats. CHF was induced by left coronary artery ligation. The development of CHF (6–8 weeks after the coronary ligation) was confirmed by hemodynamic and morphological characteristics. Immunofluorescent data indicated that Nav1.7 was expressed in A-type (myelinated) and C-type (unmyelinated) nodose neurons but Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 were expressed only in C-type nodose neurons. Real-time RT-PCR and western blot data showed that CHF reduced mRNA and protein expression levels of Nav channels in nodose neurons. In addition, using the whole cell patch-clamp technique, we found that Nav current density and cell excitability of the aortic baroreceptor neurons were lower in CHF rats than that in sham rats. Aortic baroreflex sensitivity was blunted in anesthetized CHF rats, compared with that in sham rats. Furthermore, Nav channel activator (rATX II, 100 nM) significantly enhanced Nav current density and cell excitability of aortic baroreceptor neurons and improved aortic baroreflex sensitivity in CHF rats. These results suggest that reduced expression and activation of the Nav channels is involved in the attenuation of baroreceptor neuron excitability, which subsequently contributes to the impairment of baroreflex in CHF state.
Aortic baroreceptor neuron; Baroreflex; Heart failure; Sodium channel
Because of their prominent role in electro-excitability, voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels have become the foremost important target of animal toxins. These toxins have developed the ability to discriminate between closely related NaV subtypes, making them powerful tools to study NaV channel function and structure. CgNa is a 47-amino acid residue type I toxin isolated from the venom of the Giant Caribbean Sea Anemone Condylactis gigantea. Previous studies showed that this toxin slows the fast inactivation of tetrodotoxin-sensitive NaV currents in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons. To illuminate the underlying NaV subtype-selectivity pattern, we have assayed the effects of CgNa on a broad range of mammalian isoforms (NaV1.2–NaV1.8) expressed in Xenopus oocytes. This study demonstrates that CgNa selectively slows the fast inactivation of rNaV1.3/β1, mNaV1.6/β1 and, to a lesser extent, hNaV1.5/β1, while the other mammalian isoforms remain unaffected. Importantly, CgNa was also examined on the insect sodium channel DmNaV1/tipE, revealing a clear phyla-selectivity in the efficacious actions of the toxin. CgNa strongly inhibits the inactivation of the insect NaV channel, resulting in a dramatic increase in peak current amplitude and complete removal of fast and steady-state inactivation. Together with the previously determined solution structure, the subtype-selective effects revealed in this study make of CgNa an interesting pharmacological probe to investigate the functional role of specific NaV channel subtypes. Moreover, further structural studies could provide important information on the molecular mechanism of NaV channel inactivation.
sea anemone; toxin; inactivation; sodium channel; subtype; selectivity
Changes in sodium channel activity and neuronal hyperexcitability contribute to neuropathic pain, a major clinical problem. There is strong evidence that the re-expression of the embryonic voltage-gated sodium channel subunit Nav1.3 underlies neuronal hyperexcitability and neuropathic pain.
Here we show that acute and inflammatory pain behaviour is unchanged in global Nav1.3 mutant mice. Surprisingly, neuropathic pain also developed normally in the Nav1.3 mutant mouse. To rule out any genetic compensation mechanisms that may have masked the phenotype, we investigated neuropathic pain in two conditional Nav1.3 mutant mouse lines. We used Nav1.8-Cre mice to delete Nav1.3 in nociceptors at E14 and NFH-Cre mice to delete Nav1.3 throughout the nervous system postnatally. Again normal levels of neuropathic pain developed after nerve injury in both lines. Furthermore, ectopic discharges from damaged nerves were unaffected by the absence of Nav1.3 in global knock-out mice. Our data demonstrate that Nav1.3 is neither necessary nor sufficient for the development of nerve-injury related pain.
Two voltage gated sodium channel α-subunits, Nav1.7 and Nav1.8, are expressed at high levels in nociceptor terminals and have been implicated in the development of inflammatory pain. Mis-expression of voltage-gated sodium channels by damaged sensory neurons has also been implicated in the development of neuropathic pain, but the role of Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 is uncertain. Here we show that deleting Nav1.7 has no effect on the development of neuropathic pain. Double knockouts of both Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 also develop normal levels of neuropathic pain, despite a lack of inflammatory pain symptoms and altered mechanical and thermal acute pain thresholds. These studies demonstrate that, in contrast to the highly significant role for Nav1.7 in determining inflammatory pain thresholds, the development of neuropathic pain does not require the presence of either Nav1.7 or Nav1.8 alone or in combination.
Voltage-gated sodium channels are essential for the initiation and propagation of action potentials in excitable cells and are known as a target of local anesthetics. In addition, inhibition of sodium channels by volatile anesthetics has been proposed as a mechanism of general anesthesia. The n-alcohols produce anesthesia, and their potency increases with carbon number until a “cut-off” is reached. In this study, we examined effects of a range of n-alcohols on Nav1.2 subunits to determine the alcohol cut-off for this channel. We also studied the effect of a short-chain alcohol (ethanol) and a long-chain alcohol (octanol) on Nav1.2, Nav1.4, Nav1.6, and Nav1.8 subunits, and we investigated the effects of alcohol on channel kinetics. Ethanol and octanol inhibited sodium currents of all subunits, and the inhibition of the Nav1.2 channel by n-alcohols indicated a cut-off at nonanol. Ethanol and octanol produced open-channel block, which was more pronounced for Nav1.8 than for the other sodium channels. Inhibition of Nav1.2 was due to decreased activation and increased inactivation. These results suggest that sodium channels may have a hydrophobic binding site for n-alcohols and demonstrate the differences in the kinetic mechanisms of inhibition for n-alcohols and inhaled anesthetics.
▶ The β3 subunit masks the ER retention signal of NaV1.8 and release the channel from the ER. ▶ p11 directly binds to NaV1.8 and help its translocation to the plasma membrane. ▶ PDZD2 is responsible for the functional expression of NaV1.8 on the plasma membrane. ▶ Contactin KO mice exhibit a reduction of NaV1.8 along unmyelinated axons in the sciatic nerve. ▶ PKA activation increases the NaV1.8 density on the membrane through direct phosphorylation.
The α-subunit of tetrodotoxin-resistant voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.8 is selectively expressed in sensory neurons. It has been reported that NaV1.8 is involved in the transmission of nociceptive information from sensory neurons to the central nervous system in nociceptive  and neuropathic  pain conditions. Thus NaV1.8 has been a promising target to treat chronic pain. Here we discuss the recent advances in the study of trafficking mechanism of NaV1.8. These pieces of information are particularly important as such trafficking machinery could be new targets for painkillers.
Sodium Channel; Sensory Neuron; Pain; Trafficking
The expression of voltage-gated sodium channels is regulated at multiple levels, and in this study we addressed the potential for alternative splicing of the Nav1.2, Nav1.3, Nav1.6 and Nav1.7 mRNAs. We isolated novel mRNA isoforms of Nav1.2 and Nav1.3 from adult mouse and rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG), Nav1.3 and Nav1.7 from adult mouse brain, and Nav1.7 from neonatal rat brain. These alternatively spliced isoforms introduce an additional exon (Nav1.2 exon 17A and topologically equivalent Nav1.7 exon 16A) or exon pair (Nav1.3 exons 17A and 17B) that contain an in-frame stop codon and result in predicted two-domain, truncated proteins. The mouse and rat orthologous exon sequences are highly conserved (94-100% identities), as are the paralogous Nav1.2 and Nav1.3 exons (93% identity in mouse) to which the Nav1.7 exon has only 60% identity. Previously, Nav1.3 mRNA has been shown to be upregulated in rat DRG following peripheral nerve injury, unlike the downregulation of all other sodium channel transcripts. Here we show that the expression of Nav1.3 mRNA containing exons 17A and 17B is unchanged in mouse following peripheral nerve injury (axotomy), whereas total Nav1.3 mRNA expression is upregulated by 33% (P=0.003), suggesting differential regulation of the alternatively spliced transcripts. The alternatively spliced rodent exon sequences are highly conserved in both the human and chicken genomes, with 77-89% and 72-76% identities to mouse, respectively. The widespread conservation of these sequences strongly suggests an additional level of regulation in the expression of these channels, that is also tissue-specific.
DRG; brain; alternative splicing; Scn2a; Scn3a; Scn9a
Human voltage-activated sodium (Nav) channels are adept at rapidly transmitting electrical signals across long distances in various excitable tissues. As such, they are amongst the most widely targeted ion channels by drugs and animal toxins. Of the nine isoforms, Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 are preferentially expressed in DRG neurons where they are thought to play an important role in pain signaling. Although the functional properties of Nav1.8 have been relatively well characterized, difficulties with expressing Nav1.9 in established heterologous systems limit our understanding of the gating properties and toxin pharmacology of this particular isoform. This review summarizes our current knowledge of the role of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 in pain perception and elaborates on the approaches used to identify molecules capable of influencing their function.
Nav1.8; Nav1.9; pain; animal toxins; voltage sensor; voltage-activated sodium channel
Mammals have ten voltage-dependent sodium (Nav) channel genes. Nav channels are expressed in different cell types with different subcellular distributions and are critical for many aspects of neuronal processing. The last common ancestor of teleosts and tetrapods had four Nav channel genes, presumably on four different chromosomes. In the lineage leading to mammals, a series of tandem duplications on two of these chromosomes more than doubled the number of Nav channel genes. It is unknown when these duplications occurred and whether they occurred against a backdrop of duplication of flanking genes on their chromosomes or as an expansion of ion channel genes in general. We estimated key dates of the Nav channel gene family expansion by phylogenetic analysis using teleost, elasmobranch, lungfish, amphibian, avian, lizard, and mammalian Nav channel sequences, as well as chromosomal synteny for tetrapod genes. We tested, and exclude, the null hypothesis that Nav channel genes reside in regions of chromosomes prone to duplication by demonstrating the lack of duplication or duplicate retention of surrounding genes. We also find no comparable expansion in other voltage-dependent ion channel gene families of tetrapods following the teleost–tetrapod divergence. We posit a specific expansion of the Nav channel gene family in the Devonian and Carboniferous periods when tetrapods evolved, diversified, and invaded the terrestrial habitat. During this time, the amniote forebrain evolved greater anatomical complexity and novel tactile sensory receptors appeared. The duplication of Nav channel genes allowed for greater regional specialization in Nav channel expression, variation in subcellular localization, and enhanced processing of somatosensory input.
sodium channel; tetrapods; amniotes; terrestriality; gene duplication; brain
Spermidine and spermine, are endogenous polyamines (PAs) that regulate cell growth and modulate the activity of numerous ion channel proteins. In particular, intracellular PAs are potent blockers of many different cation channels and are responsible for strong suppression of outward K+ current, a phenomenon known as inward rectification characteristic of a major class of KIR K+ channels. We previously described block of heterologously expressed voltage-gated Na+ channels (NaV) of rat muscle by intracellular PAs and PAs have recently been found to modulate excitability of brain neocortical neurons by blocking neuronal NaV channels. In this study, we compared the sensitivity of four different cloned mammalian NaV isoforms to PAs to investigate whether PA block is a common feature of NaV channel pharmacology. We find that outward Na+ current of muscle (NaV1.4), heart (NaV1.5), and neuronal (NaV1.2, NaV1.7) NaV isoforms is blocked by PAs, suggesting that PA metabolism may be linked to modulation of action potential firing in numerous excitable tissues. Interestingly, the cardiac NaV1.5 channel is more sensitive to PA block than other isoforms. Our results also indicate that rapid binding of PAs to blocking sites in the NaV1.4 channel is restricted to access from the cytoplasmic side of the channel, but plasma membrane transport pathways for PA uptake may contribute to long-term NaV channel modulation. PAs may also play a role in drug interactions since spermine attenuates the use-dependent effect of the lidocaine, a typical local anesthetic and anti-arrhythmic drug.
inward rectification; lidocaine; local anesthetics; Polyamines; sodium channels; spermidine; spermine; use-dependence; voltage-gated Na+ channels
The voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.6 plays unique roles in the nervous system, but its functional properties and neuromodulation are not as well established as for NaV1.2 channels. We found no significant differences in voltage-dependent activation or fast inactivation between NaV1.6 and NaV1.2 channels expressed in non-excitable cells. In contrast, the voltage dependence of slow inactivation was more positive for Nav1.6 channels, they conducted substantially larger persistent sodium currents than Nav1.2 channels, and they were much less sensitive to inhibtion by phosphorylation by cAMP-dependent protein kinase and protein kinase C. Resurgent sodium current, a hallmark of Nav1.6 channels in neurons, was not observed for NaV1.6 expressed alone or with the auxiliary β4 subunit. The unique properties of NaV1.6 channels, together with the resurgent currents that they conduct in neurons, make these channels well-suited to provide the driving force for sustained repetitive firing, a crucial property of neurons.
Voltage-gated sodium channels are important sites for the neurotoxic actions of pyrethroid insecticides in mammals. The pore-forming α subunits of mammalian sodium channels are encoded by a family of 9 genes, designated Nav1.1 - Nav1.9. Native sodium channels in the adult central nervous system (CNS) are heterotrimeric complexes of one of these 9 α subunits and two auxiliary (β) subunits. Here we compare the functional properties and pyrethroid sensitivity of the rat and human Nav1.3 isoforms, which are abundantly expressed in the developing CNS. Coexpression of the rat Nav1.3 and human Nav1.3 α subunits in combination with their conspecific β1 and β2 subunits in Xenopus laevis oocytes gave channels with markedly different inactivation properties and sensitivities to the pyrethroid insecticide tefluthrin. Rat Nav1.3 channels inactivated more slowly than human Nav1.3 channels during a depolarizing pulse. The rat and human channels also differed in their voltage dependence of steady-state inactivation. Exposure of rat and human Nav1.3 channels to 100 μM tefluthrin in the resting state produced populations of channels that activated, inactivated and deactivated more slowly than unmodified channels. For both rat and human channels, application of trains of depolarizing prepulses enhanced the extent of tefluthrin modification approximately twofold; this result implies that tefluthrin may bind to both the resting and open states of the channel. Modification of rat Nav1.3 channels by 100 μM tefluthrin was four-fold greater than that measured in parallel assays with human Nav1.3 channels. Human Nav1.3 channels were also less sensitive to tefluthrin than rat Nav1.2 channels, which are considered to be relatively insensitive to pyrethroids. These data provide the first direct comparison of the functional and pharmacological properties of orthologous rat and human sodium channels and demonstrate that orthologous channels with a high degree of amino acid sequence conservation differ in both their functional properties and their sensitivities to pyrethroid insecticides.
Nav1.3; oocyte; sodium channel; pyrethroid; tefluthrin; rat; human
Members of the degenerin/epithelial (DEG/ENaC) sodium channel family are mechanosensors in C elegans, and Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 voltage-gated sodium channel knockout mice have major deficits in mechanosensation. β and γENaC sodium channel subunits are present with acid sensing ion channels (ASICs) in mammalian sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG). The extent to which epithelial or voltage-gated sodium channels are involved in transduction of mechanical stimuli is unclear.
Here we show that deleting β and γENaC sodium channels in sensory neurons does not result in mechanosensory behavioural deficits. We had shown previously that Nav1.7/Nav1.8 double knockout mice have major deficits in behavioural responses to noxious mechanical pressure. However, all classes of mechanically activated currents in DRG neurons are unaffected by deletion of the two sodium channels. In contrast, the ability of Nav1.7/Nav1.8 knockout DRG neurons to generate action potentials is compromised with 50% of the small diameter sensory neurons unable to respond to electrical stimulation in vitro.
Behavioural deficits in Nav1.7/Nav1.8 knockout mice reflects a failure of action potential propagation in a mechanosensitive set of sensory neurons rather than a loss of primary transduction currents. DEG/ENaC sodium channels are not mechanosensors in mouse sensory neurons.
Mechanotransduction; Sodium channels; Pain; Nav1.7; Nav1.8; ENaCs
The exact site of initiation and shape of action potentials vary among different neuronal types. The reason for this variability is largely unknown, but the subunit composition, density and distribution of voltage-gated sodium (Nav) and potassium (Kv) channels within the axon initial segment (AIS) are likely to play a key role. Here, we asked how heterogeneous are the density and distribution of Nav and Kv channels within the AISs of a variety of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Most of the studied cell types expressed a high density of Nav1.6, Kv1.1, and Kv1.2 subunits in their AIS, but the Nav1.1 subunit could only be detected in GABAergic interneurons. A proximo-distal gradient in the density of these subunits was observed within the AIS of certain nerve cells but not in others. For example, a gradual increase of the Nav1.6 subunit was observed in cortical layer 2/3 and hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cell (PC) AISs, whereas its density was rather uniform in layer 5 PC AISs. The Nav1.1 subunit was distributed evenly along the AIS of short-axon cells of the main olfactory bulb but was restricted to the proximal part of the AIS in cortical and cerebellar interneurons. Our results reveal a cell type-dependent expression of sodium and potassium channel subunits with varying densities along the proximo-distal axis of the AISs. This precise arrangement is likely to contribute to the diversity of firing properties observed among central neurons.
voltage-gated ion channels; immunohistochemistry; axon initial segment; cortex; hippocampus; cerebellum; olfactory bulb
The voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.8 is expressed exclusively in nociceptive sensory neurons and plays an important role in pain pathways. NaV1.8 cannot be functionally expressed in non-neuronal cells even in the presence of β-subunits. We have previously identified Pdzd2, a multi PDZ-domain protein, as a potential interactor for NaV1.8. Here we report that Pdzd2 binds directly to the intracellular loops of NaV1.8 and NaV1.7. The endogenous NaV1.8 current in sensory neurons is inhibited by antisense- and siRNA-mediated downregulation of Pdzd2. However, no marked change in pain behaviours is observed in Pdzd2-decificent mice. This may be due to compensatory upregulation of p11, another regulatory factor for NaV1.8, in dorsal root ganglia of Pdzd2-deficient mice. These findings reveal that Pdzd2 and p11 play collaborative roles in regulation of NaV1.8 expression in sensory neurons.
The voltage-gated sodium-channel type IX α subunit, known as Nav1.7 and encoded by the gene SCN9A, is located in peripheral neurons and plays an important role in action potential production in these cells. Recent genetic studies have identified Nav1.7 dysfunction in three different human pain disorders. Gain-of-function missense mutations in Nav1.7 have been shown to cause primary erythermalgia and paroxysmal extreme pain disorder, while nonsense mutations in Nav1.7 result in loss of Nav1.7 function and a condition known as channelopathy-associated insensitivity to pain, a rare disorder in which affected individuals are unable to feel physical pain. This review highlights these recent developments and discusses the critical role of Nav1.7 in pain sensation in humans.
The voltage-gated sodium channel (Nav1) plays an important role in initiating and propagating action potentials in neuronal cells. We and others have recently found that the Alzheimer’s disease-related secretases BACE1 and presenilin (PS)/γ-secretase regulate Nav1 function by cleaving auxiliary subunits of the channel complex. We have also shown that elevated BACE1 activity significantly decreases sodium current densities in neuroblastoma cells and acutely dissociated adult hippocampal neurons. For detailed molecular studies of sodium channel regulation, biochemical methods are now complementing classical electrophysiology. To understand how BACE1 regulates sodium current densities in our studies, we setup conditions to analyze surface levels of the pore-forming Nav1 α-subunits. By using a cell surface biotinylation protocol, we found that elevated BACE1 activity significantly decreases surface Nav1 α-subunit levels in both neuroblastoma cells and acutely prepared hippocampal slices. This finding would explain the decreased sodium currents shown by standard electrophysiological methods. The biochemical methods used in our studies would be applicable to analyses of surface expression levels of other ion channels as well as Nav1 in cells and adult hippocampal neurons.
Voltage-gated sodium channel; BACE1; Presenilin; γ-Secretase; Cell surface biotinylation; Neuroblastoma; Hippocampal neurons; Adult hippocampal slices
Voltage-gated sodium channels are membrane proteins that initiate action potentials in neurons following membrane depolarization. Members of this family show differential distribution at the subcellular level. The mechanisms underlying the targeting of these isoforms are not understood. However, their specificity is important because the isoforms can change the excitability of the membrane due to differences in their electrophysiological properties. In this study, chimeras generated between Nav1.2 and Nav1.6 were used to test channel domains for sequence that would allow Nav1.2 to localize to unmyelinated axons when Nav1.6 could not. We show that the N-terminal 202 amino acids of the Nav1.2 channel can mediate membrane domain-specific sorting in polarized epithelial cells and are necessary but not sufficient for localizing the isoform to the axons of cultured neurons. The domain-sorting signal is in the region between amino acids 110-202 of the Nav1.2 channel. The C-terminal 451 amino acids of Nav1.2 likely contain determinants that interact with neuron-specific factors to direct Nav1.2 to the axon.
Sodium channels; localization; neuron
Neuropathic pain resulting from chronic constriction injury (CCI) is critically linked to sensitization of peripheral nociceptors. Voltage gated sodium channels are major contributors to this state and their expression can be upregulated by nerve growth factor (NGF). We have previously demonstrated that neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) acts antagonistically to NGF in modulation of aspects of CCI-induced changes in trkA-associated nociceptor phenotype and thermal hyperalgesia. Thus, we hypothesized that exposure of neurons to increased levels of NT-3 would reduce expression of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 in DRG neurons subject to CCI. In adult male rats, Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 mRNAs are expressed at high levels in predominantly small to medium size neurons. One week following CCI, there is reduced incidence of neurons expressing detectable Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 mRNA, but without a significant decline in mean level of neuronal expression, and similar findings observed immunohistochemically. There is also increased accumulation/redistribution of channel protein in the nerve most apparent proximal to the first constriction site. Intrathecal infusion of NT-3 significantly attenuates neuronal expression of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 mRNA contralateral and most notably, ipsilateral to CCI, with a similar impact on relative protein expression at the level of the neuron and constricted nerve. We also observe reduced expression of the common neurotrophin receptor p75 in response to CCI that is not reversed by NT-3 in small to medium sized neurons and may confer an enhanced ability of NT-3 to signal via trkA, as has been previously shown in other cell types. These findings are consistent with an analgesic role for NT-3.
Nav1.8; Nav1.9; DRG; sciatic nerve; CCI; nociceptor; nerve growth factor
In injured neurons, “leaky” voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav) underlie dysfunctional excitability that ranges from spontaneous subthreshold oscillations (STO), to ectopic (sometimes paroxysmal) excitation, to depolarizing block. In recombinant systems, mechanical injury to Nav1.6-rich membranes causes cytoplasmic Na+-loading and “Nav-CLS”, i.e., coupled left-(hyperpolarizing)-shift of Nav activation and availability. Metabolic injury of hippocampal neurons (epileptic discharge) results in comparable impairment: left-shifted activation and availability and hence left-shifted INa-window. A recent computation study revealed that CLS-based INa-window left-shift dissipates ion gradients and impairs excitability. Here, via dynamical analyses, we focus on sustained excitability patterns in mildly damaged nodes, in particular with more realistic Gaussian-distributed Nav-CLS to mimic “smeared” injury intensity. Since our interest is axons that might survive injury, pumps (sine qua non for live axons) are included. In some simulations, pump efficacy and system volumes are varied. Impacts of current noise inputs are also characterized. The diverse modes of spontaneous rhythmic activity evident in these scenarios are studied using bifurcation analysis. For “mild CLS injury”, a prominent feature is slow pump/leak-mediated EIon oscillations. These slow oscillations yield dynamic firing thresholds that underlie complex voltage STO and bursting behaviors. Thus, Nav-CLS, a biophysically justified mode of injury, in parallel with functioning pumps, robustly engenders an emergent slow process that triggers a plethora of pathological excitability patterns. This minimalist “device” could have physiological analogs. At first nodes of Ranvier and at nociceptors, e.g., localized lipid-tuning that modulated Nav midpoints could produce Nav-CLS, as could co-expression of appropriately differing Nav isoforms.
Nerve cells damaged by trauma, stroke, epilepsy, inflammatory conditions etc, have chronically leaky sodium channels that eventually kill. The usual job of sodium channels is to make brief voltage signals –action potentials– for long distance propagation. After sodium channels open to generate action potentials, sodium pumps work harder to re-establish the intracellular/extracellular sodium imbalance that is, literally, the neuron's battery for firing action potentials. Wherever tissue damage renders membranes overly fluid, we hypothesize, sodium channels become chronically leaky. Our experimental findings justify this. In fluidized membranes, sodium channel voltage sensors respond too easily, letting channels spend too much time open. Channels leak, pumps respond. By mathematical modeling, we show that in damaged channel-rich membranes the continual pump/leak counterplay would trigger the kinds of bizarre intermittent action potential bursts typical of injured neurons. Arising ectopically from injury regions, such neuropathic firing is unrelated to events in the external world. Drugs that can silence these deleterious electrical barrages without blocking healthy action potentials are needed. If fluidized membranes house the problematic leaky sodium channels, then drug side effects could be diminished by using drugs that accumulate most avidly into fluidized membranes, and that bind their targets with highest affinity there.
The Nav1.6 voltage-gated sodium channel α subunit isoform is the most abundant isoform in the brain and is implicated in the transmission of high frequency action potentials. Purification and immunocytochemical studies imply that Nav1.6 exist predominantly as Nav1.6+β1+β2 heterotrimeric complexes. We assessed the independent and joint effects of the rat β1 and β2 subunits on the gating and kinetic properties of rat Nav1.6 channels by recording whole-cell currents in the two-electrode voltage clamp configuration following transient expression in Xenopus oocytes. The β1 subunit accelerated fast inactivation of sodium currents but had no effect on the voltage dependence of their activation and steady-state inactivation and also prevented the decline of currents following trains of high-frequency depolarizing prepulses. The β2 subunit selectively retarded the fast phase of fast inactivation and shifted the voltage dependence of activation towards depolarization without affecting other gating properties and had no effect on the decline of currents following repeated depolarization. The β1 and β2 subunits expressed together accelerated both kinetic phases of fast inactivation, shifted the voltage dependence of activation towards hyperpolarization, and gave currents with a persistent component typical of those recorded from neurons expressing Nav1.6 sodium channels. These results identify unique effects of the β1 and β2 subunits and demonstrate that joint modulation by both auxiliary subunits gives channel properties that are not predicted by the effects of individual subunits.
voltage-gated sodium channels; Nav1.6; β subunits; voltage clamp; kinetics; steady-state properties
Inherited mutations in voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs; or Nav) cause many
disorders of excitability, including epilepsy, chronic pain, myotonia, and cardiac
arrhythmias. Understanding the functional consequences of the disease-causing
mutations is likely to provide invaluable insight into the roles that VGSCs play in
normal and abnormal excitability. Here, we sought to test the hypothesis that
disease-causing mutations lead to increased resurgent currents, unusual sodium
currents that have not previously been implicated in disorders of excitability. We
demonstrated that a paroxysmal extreme pain disorder (PEPD) mutation in the human
peripheral neuronal sodium channel Nav1.7, a paramyotonia congenita (PMC) mutation in
the human skeletal muscle sodium channel Nav1.4, and a long-QT3/SIDS mutation in the
human cardiac sodium channel Nav1.5 all substantially increased the amplitude of
resurgent sodium currents in an optimized adult rat–derived dorsal root
ganglion neuronal expression system. Computer simulations indicated that resurgent
currents associated with the Nav1.7 mutation could induce high-frequency action
potential firing in nociceptive neurons and that resurgent currents associated with
the Nav1.5 mutation could broaden the action potential in cardiac myocytes. These
effects are consistent with the pathophysiology associated with the respective
channelopathies. Our results indicate that resurgent currents are associated with
multiple channelopathies and are likely to be important contributors to neuronal and
muscle disorders of excitability.
Voltage-gated Nav channels are required for normal electrical activity in neurons, skeletal muscle, and cardiomyocytes. In the heart, Nav1.5 is the predominant Nav channel, and Nav1.5-dependent activity regulates rapid upstroke of the cardiac action potential. Nav1.5 activity requires precise localization at specialized cardiomyocyte membrane domains. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying Nav channel trafficking in the heart are unknown. In this paper, we demonstrate that ankyrin-G is required for Nav1.5 targeting in the heart. Cardiomyocytes with reduced ankyrin-G display reduced Nav1.5 expression, abnormal Nav1.5 membrane targeting, and reduced Na+ channel current density. We define the structural requirements on ankyrin-G for Nav1.5 interactions and demonstrate that loss of Nav1.5 targeting is caused by the loss of direct Nav1.5–ankyrin-G interaction. These data are the first report of a cellular pathway required for Nav channel trafficking in the heart and suggest that ankyrin-G is critical for cardiac depolarization and Nav channel organization in multiple excitable tissues.
Antillatoxin (ATX) is a structurally unique lipopeptide produced by the marine cyanobacterium Lyngbya majuscula. ATX activates voltage-gated sodium channel α-subunits at an undefined recognition site and stimulates sodium influx in neurons. However, the pharmacological properties and selectivity of ATX on the sodium channel α-subunits were not fully characterized.
In this study, we characterized the pharmacological properties and selectivity of ATX in cells heterologously expressing rNav1.2, rNav1.4 or rNav1.5 α-subunits by using the Na+ selective fluorescent dye, sodium-binding benzofuran isophthalate. ATX produced sodium influx in cells expressing each sodium channel α-subunit, whereas two other sodium channel activators, veratridine and brevetoxin-2, were without effect. The ATX potency at rNav1.2, rNav1.4 and rNav1.5 did not differ significantly. Similarly, there were no significant differences in the efficacy for ATX-induced sodium influx between rNav1.2, rNav1.4 and rNav1.5 α-subunits. ATX also produced robust Ca2+ influx relative to other sodium channel activators in the calcium-permeable DEAA mutant of rNav1.4 α-subunit. Finally, we demonstrated that the 8-demethyl-8,9-dihydro-antillatoxin analog was less efficacious and less potent in stimulating sodium influx.
ATX displayed a unique efficacy with respect to stimulation of sodium influx in cells expressing rNav1.2, rNav1.4 and rNav1.5 α-subunits. The efficacy of ATX was distinctive inasmuch as it was not shared by activators of neurotoxin sites 2 and 5 on VGSC α-subunits. Given the unique pharmacological properties of ATX interaction with sodium channel α-subunits, decoding the molecular determinants and mechanism of action of antillatoxin may provide further insight into sodium channel gating mechanisms.
Voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels in cardiomyocytes are localized in specialized membrane domains that optimize their functions in propagating action potentials across cell junctions and in stimulating voltage-gated calcium channels located in T tubules. Mutation of the ankyrin-binding site of Nav1.5, the principal Nav channel in the heart, was previously known to cause cardiac arrhythmia and the retention of Nav1.5 in an intracellular compartment in cardiomyocytes. Conclusive evidence is now provided that direct interaction between Nav1.5 and ankyrin-G is necessary for the expression of Nav1.5 at the cardiomyocyte cell surface.