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1.  Spontaneous Excitation Patterns Computed for Axons with Injury-like Impairments of Sodium Channels and Na/K Pumps 
PLoS Computational Biology  2012;8(9):e1002664.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC3441427  PMID: 23028273
2.  Early events in node of Ranvier formation during myelination and remyelination in the PNS 
Neuron glia biology  2006;2(2):69-79.
Action potential conduction velocity increases dramatically during early development as axons become myelinated. Integral to this process is the clustering of voltage-gated Na+ (Nav) channels at regularly spaced gaps in the myelin sheath called nodes of Ranvier. We show here that some aspects of peripheral node of Ranvier formation are distinct from node formation in the CNS. For example, at CNS nodes, Nav1.2 channels are detected first, but are then replaced by Nav1.6. Similarly, during remyelination in the CNS, Nav1.2 channels are detected at newly forming nodes. By contrast, the earliest Nav-channel clusters detected during developmental myelination in the PNS have Nav1.6. Further, during PNS remyelination, Nav1.6 is detected at new nodes. Finally, we show that accumulation of the cell adhesion molecule neurofascin always precedes Nav channel clustering in the PNS. In most cases axonal neurofascin (NF-186) accumulates first, but occasionally paranodal neurofascin is detected first. We suggest there is heterogeneity in the events leading to Nav channel clustering, indicating that multiple mechanisms might contribute to node of Ranvier formation in the PNS.
PMCID: PMC1424668  PMID: 16652168
Myelin; demyelination; Na+ channel; paranode; axon–glia interaction
3.  Where is the spike generator of the cochlear nerve? Voltage-gated sodium channels in the mouse cochlea. 
The origin of the action potential in the cochlea has been a long-standing puzzle. Since voltage-dependent Na+ (Nav) channels are essential for action potential generation, we investigated the detailed distribution of Nav1.6 and Nav1.2 in the cochlear ganglion, cochlear nerve, and organ of Corti, including the Type I and Type II ganglion cells. In most Type I ganglion cells, Nav1.6 was present at the first nodes flanking the myelinated bipolar cell body and at subsequent nodes of Ranvier. In the other ganglion cells, including Type II, Nav1.6 clustered in the initial segments of both of the axons that flank the unmyelinated bipolar ganglion cell bodies. In the organ of Corti, Nav1.6 was localized in the short segments of the afferent axons and their sensory endings beneath each inner hair cell. Surprisingly, the outer spiral fibers and their sensory endings were well labeled beneath the outer hair cells over their entire trajectory. In contrast, Nav1.2 in the organ of Corti was localized to the unmyelinated efferent axons and their endings on the inner and outer hair cells. We present a computational model illustrating the potential role of the Nav channel distribution described here. In the deaf mutant quivering mouse, the localization of Nav1.6 was disrupted in the sensory epithelium and ganglion. Taken together, these results suggest that distinct Nav channels generate and regenerate action potentials at multiple sites along the cochlear ganglion cells and nerve fibers, including the afferent endings, ganglionic initial segments, and nodes of Ranvier.
PMCID: PMC1378182  PMID: 16033895
Axon initial segment; Nav1.6; Nav1.2; Spiral ganglion; Cochlear nucleus; Hair cells; Quivering mutation; Computational model
4.  Reduced expression and activation of voltage-gated sodium channels contributes to blunted baroreflex sensitivity in heart failure rats 
Journal of neuroscience research  2010;88(15):3337-3349.
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.
PMCID: PMC2953570  PMID: 20857502
Aortic baroreceptor neuron; Baroreflex; Heart failure; Sodium channel
5.  β1- and β3- voltage-gated sodium channel subunits modulate cell surface expression and glycosylation of Nav1.7 in HEK293 cells 
Voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs) are glycoproteins composed of a pore-forming α-subunit and associated β-subunits that regulate Nav α-subunit plasma membrane density and biophysical properties. Glycosylation of the Nav α-subunit also directly affects Navs gating. β-subunits and glycosylation thus comodulate Nav α-subunit gating. We hypothesized that β-subunits could directly influence α-subunit glycosylation. Whole-cell patch clamp of HEK293 cells revealed that both β1- and β3-subunits coexpression shifted V½ of steady-state activation and inactivation and increased Nav1.7-mediated INa density. Biotinylation of cell surface proteins, combined with the use of deglycosydases, confirmed that Nav1.7 α-subunits exist in multiple glycosylated states. The α-subunit intracellular fraction was found in a core-glycosylated state, migrating at ~250 kDa. At the plasma membrane, in addition to the core-glycosylated form, a fully glycosylated form of Nav1.7 (~280 kDa) was observed. This higher band shifted to an intermediate band (~260 kDa) when β1-subunits were coexpressed, suggesting that the β1-subunit promotes an alternative glycosylated form of Nav1.7. Furthermore, the β1-subunit increased the expression of this alternative glycosylated form and the β3-subunit increased the expression of the core-glycosylated form of Nav1.7. This study describes a novel role for β1- and β3-subunits in the modulation of Nav1.7 α-subunit glycosylation and cell surface expression.
PMCID: PMC3757325  PMID: 24009557
voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs); Navs β-subunits; glycosylation; biophysical properties; trafficking
6.  An ankyrinG-binding motif is necessary and sufficient for targeting Nav1.6 sodium channels to axon initial segments and nodes of Ranvier 
Neurons are highly polarized cells with functionally distinct axonal and somatodendritic compartments. Voltage-gated sodium channels Nav1.2 and Nav1.6 are highly enriched at axon initial segments (AIS) and nodes of Ranvier, where they are necessary for generation and propagation of action potentials. Previous studies using reporter proteins in unmyelinated cultured neurons suggest that an ankyrinG-binding motif within intracellular loop 2 (L2) of sodium channels is sufficient for targeting these channels to the AIS, but mechanisms of channel targeting to nodes remain poorly understood. Using a CD4-Nav1.2/L2 reporter protein in rat dorsal root ganglion neuron-Schwann cell myelinating co-cultures, we show that the ankyrinG-binding motif is sufficient for protein targeting to nodes of Ranvier. However, reporter proteins cannot capture the complexity of full-length channels. To determine how native, full-length sodium channels are clustered in axons, and to show the feasibility of studying these channels in vivo, we constructed fluorescently-tagged and functional mouse Nav1.6 channels for in vivo analysis using in utero brain electroporation. We show here that wild-type tagged-Nav1.6 channels are efficiently clustered at nodes and AIS in vivo. Furthermore, we show that mutation of a single invariant glutamic acid residue (E1100) within the ankyrinG-binding motif blocked Nav1.6 targeting in neurons both in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, we show that caseine kinase phosphorylation sites within this motif, while not essential for targeting, can modulate clustering at the AIS. Thus, the ankyrinG- binding motif is both necessary and sufficient for the clustering of sodium channels at nodes of Ranvier and the AIS.
PMCID: PMC3413458  PMID: 22623668
Ion Channel; Axon Initial Segment; Nodes of Ranvier; cytoskeleton; in utero electroporation
7.  Exposure to Extremely Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Modulates Na+ Currents in Rat Cerebellar Granule Cells through Increase of AA/PGE2 and EP Receptor-Mediated cAMP/PKA Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54376.
Although the modulation of Ca2+ channel activity by extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) has been studied previously, few reports have addressed the effects of such fields on the activity of voltage-activated Na+ channels (Nav). Here, we investigated the effects of ELF-EMF on Nav activity in rat cerebellar granule cells (GCs). Our results reveal that exposing cerebellar GCs to ELF-EMF for 10–60 min significantly increased Nav currents (INa) by 30–125% in a time- and intensity-dependent manner. The Nav channel steady-state activation curve, but not the steady-state inactivation curve, was significantly shifted (by 5.2 mV) towards hyperpolarization by ELF-EMF stimulation. This phenomenon is similar to the effect of intracellular application of arachidonic acid (AA) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) on INa in cerebellar GCs. Increases in intracellular AA, PGE2 and phosphorylated PKA levels in cerebellar GCs were observed following ELF-EMF exposure. Western blottings indicated that the NaV 1.2 protein on the cerebellar GCs membrane was increased, the total expression levels of NaV 1.2 protein were not affected after exposure to ELF-EMF. Cyclooxygenase inhibitors and PGE2 receptor (EP) antagonists were able to eliminate this ELF-EMF-induced increase in phosphorylated PKA and INa. In addition, ELF-EMF exposure significantly enhanced the activity of PLA2 in cerebellar GCs but did not affect COX-1 or COX-2 activity. Together, these data demonstrate for the first time that neuronal INa is significantly increased by ELF-EMF exposure via a cPLA2 AA PGE2 EP receptors PKA signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3551899  PMID: 23349866
8.  Specificity, affinity and efficacy of iota-conotoxin RXIA, an agonist of voltage-gated sodium channels NaV1.2, 1.6 and 1.7 
Biochemical pharmacology  2008;75(12):2334-2344.
The excitotoxic conopeptide ι-RXIA induces repetitive action potentials in frog motor axons and seizures upon intracranial injection into mice. We recently discovered that ι-RXIA shifts the voltage-dependence of activation of voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.6 to a more hyperpolarized level. Here, we performed voltage-clamp experiments to examine its activity against rodent NaV1.1 through NaV1.7 co-expressed with the β1 subunit in Xenopus oocytes and NaV1.8 in dissociated mouse DRG neurons. The order of sensitivity to ι-RXIA was NaV1.6 > 1.2 > 1.7, and the remaining subtypes were insensitive. The time course of ι-RXIA-activity on NaV1.6 during exposure to different peptide concentrations were well fit by single-exponential curves that provided kobs. The plot of kobs versus [ι-RXIA] was linear, consistent with a bimolecular reaction with a Kd of ~3 μM, close to the steady-state EC50 of ~2 μM. ι-RXIA has an unusual residue, D-Phe, and the analog with an L-Phe instead, ι-RXIA[L-Phe44], had a two-fold lower affinity and two-fold faster off-rate than ι-RXIA on NaV1.6 and furthermore was inactive on NaV1.2. ι-RXIA induced repetitive action potentials in mouse sciatic nerve with conduction velocities of both A- and C-fibers, consistent with the presence of NaV1.6 at nodes of Ranvier as well as in unmyelinated axons. Sixteen peptides homologous to ι-RXIA have been identified from a single species of Conus, so these peptides represent a rich family of novel sodium channel-targeting ligands.
PMCID: PMC2700742  PMID: 18486102
channel-activation; conopeptide; excitotoxin; iota-conotoxin RXIA; neurotoxin; voltage-gated sodium channel
9.  Pacemaker rate and depolarization block in nigral dopamine neurons: a somatic sodium channel balancing act 
Midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons are slow intrinsic pacemakers that undergo depolarization (DP) block upon moderate stimulation. Understanding DP block is important because it has been correlated with the clinical efficacy of chronic antipsychotic drug treatment. Here we describe how voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels regulate DP block and pacemaker activity in DA neurons of the substantia nigra using rat brain slices. The distribution, density and gating of NaV currents were manipulated by blocking native channels with tetrodotoxin and by creating virtual channels and anti-channels with dynamic clamp. Although action potentials initiate in the axon initial segment (AIS) and NaV channels are distributed in multiple dendrites, selective reduction of NaV channel activity in the soma was sufficient to decrease pacemaker frequency and increase susceptibility to DP block. Conversely, increasing somatic NaV current density raised pacemaker frequency and lowered susceptibility to DP block. Finally, when NaV currents were restricted to the soma, pacemaker activity occurred at abnormally high rates due to excessive local subthreshold NaV current. Together with computational simulations, these data show that both the slow pacemaker rate and the sensitivity to DP block that characterizes DA neurons result from the low density of somatic NaV channels. More generally, we conclude that the somatodendritic distribution of NaV channels is a major determinant of repetitive spiking frequency.
PMCID: PMC3494994  PMID: 23077037
10.  Molecular basis of differential sensitivity of insect sodium channels to DCJW, a bioactive metabolite of the oxadiazine insecticide indoxacarb 
Neurotoxicology  2005;27(2):237-244.
Indoxacarb (DPX-JW062) was recently developed as a new oxadiazine insecticide with high insecticidal activity and low mammalian toxicity. Previous studies showed that indoxacarb and its bioactive metabolite, N-decarbomethoxyllated JW062 (DCJW), block insect sodium channels in nerve preparations and isolated neurons. However, the molecular mechanism of indoxacarb/DCJW action on insect sodium channels is not well understood. In this study, we identified two cockroach sodium channel variants, BgNav1-1 and BgNav1-4, which differ in voltage dependence of fast and slow inactivation, and channel sensitivity to DCJW. The voltage dependence of fast inactivation and slow inactivation of BgNav1-4 were shifted in the hyperpolarizing direction compared with those of BgNav1-1 channels. At the holding potential of −90 mV, 20 μM of DCJW reduced the peak current of BgNav1-4 by about 40%, but had no effect on BgNav1-1. However, at the holding potential of −60 mV, DCJW also reduced the peak currents of BgNav1-1 by about 50%. Furthermore, DCJW delayed the recovery from slow inactivation of both variants. Substitution of E1689 in segment 4 of domain four (IVS4) of BgNav1-4 with a K, which is present in BgNav1-1, was sufficient to shift the voltage dependence of fast and slow inactivation of BgNav1-4 channels to the more depolarizing membrane potential close to that of BgNav1-1 channels. The E1689K change also eliminated the DCJW inhibition of BgNav1-4 at the hyperpolarizing holding potentials. These results show that the E1689K change is responsible for the difference in channel gating and sensitivity to DCJW between BgNav1-4 and BgNav1-1. Our results support the notion that DCJW preferably acts on the inactivated state of the sodium channel and demonstrate that K1689E is a major molecular determinant of the voltage-dependent inactivation and state-dependent action of DCJW.
PMCID: PMC3057067  PMID: 16325912
Insect sodium channel; Insecticide; Indoxacarb; DCJW; Xenopus oocyte
11.  Calcium-Mediated Dual-Mode Regulation of Cardiac Sodium Channel Gating 
Circulation research  2009;104(7):870-878.
Intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) can trigger dual-mode regulation of the voltage gated cardiac sodium channel (NaV1.5). The channel components of the Ca2+ regulatory system are the calmodulin (CaM)-binding IQ motif and the Ca2+ sensing EF hand–like (EFL) motif in the carboxyl terminus of the channel. Mutations in either motif have been associated with arrhythmogenic changes in expressed NaV1.5 currents. Increases in [Ca2+]i shift the steady-state inactivation of NaV1.5 in the depolarizing direction and slow entry into inactivated states. Mutation of the EFL (NaV1.54X) shifts inactivation in the hyperpolarizing direction compared with the wild-type channel and eliminates the Ca2+ sensitivity of inactivation gating. Modulation of the steady-state availability of NaV1.5 by [Ca2+]i is more pronounced after the truncation of the carboxyl terminus proximal to the IQ motif (NaV1.5Δ1885), which retains the EFL. Mutating the EFL (NaV1.54X) unmasks CaM-mediated regulation of the kinetics and voltage dependence of inactivation. This latent CaM modulation of inactivation is eliminated by mutation of the IQ motif (NaV1.54X-IQ/AA). The LQT3 EFL mutant channel NaV1.5D1790G exhibits Ca2+ insensitivity and unmasking of CaM regulation of inactivation gating. The enhanced effect of CaM on NaV1.54X gating is associated with significantly greater fluorescence resonance energy transfer between enhanced cyan fluorescent protein–CaM and NaV1.54X channels than is observed with wild-type NaV1.5. Unlike other isoforms of the Na channel, the IQ-CaM interaction in the carboxyl terminus of NaV1.5 is latent under physiological conditions but may become manifest in the presence of disease causing mutations in the CT of NaV1.5 (particularly in the EFL), contributing to the production of potentially lethal ventricular arrhythmias.
PMCID: PMC2860428  PMID: 19265034
voltage-gated sodium channel; EF hand motif; IQ motif; calmodulin; FRET
12.  Intra- and interfamily phenotypic diversity in pain syndromes associated with a gain-of-function variant of NaV1.7 
Molecular Pain  2011;7:92.
Sodium channel NaV1.7 is preferentially expressed within dorsal root ganglia (DRG), trigeminal ganglia and sympathetic ganglion neurons and their fine-diamter axons, where it acts as a threshold channel, amplifying stimuli such as generator potentials in nociceptors. Gain-of-function mutations and variants (single amino acid substitutions) of NaV1.7 have been linked to three pain syndromes: Inherited Erythromelalgia (IEM), Paroxysmal Extreme Pain Disorder (PEPD), and Small Fiber Neuropathy (SFN). IEM is characterized clinically by burning pain and redness that is usually focused on the distal extremities, precipitated by mild warmth and relieved by cooling, and is caused by mutations that hyperpolarize activation, slow deactivation, and enhance the channel ramp response. PEPD is characterized by perirectal, periocular or perimandibular pain, often triggered by defecation or lower body stimulation, and is caused by mutations that severely impair fast-inactivation. SFN presents a clinical picture dominated by neuropathic pain and autonomic symptoms; gain-of-function variants have been reported to be present in approximately 30% of patients with biopsy-confirmed idiopathic SFN, and functional testing has shown altered fast-inactivation, slow-inactivation or resurgent current. In this paper we describe three patients who house the NaV1.7/I228M variant.
We have used clinical assessment of patients, quantitative sensory testing and skin biopsy to study these patients, including two siblings in one family, in whom genomic screening demonstrated the I228M NaV1.7 variant. Electrophysiology (voltage-clamp and current-clamp) was used to test functional effects of the variant channel.
We report three different clinical presentations of the I228M NaV1.7 variant: presentation with severe facial pain, presentation with distal (feet, hands) pain, and presentation with scalp discomfort in three patients housing this NaV1.7 variant, two of which are from a single family. We also demonstrate that the NaV1.7/I228M variant impairs slow-inactivation, and produces hyperexcitability in both trigeminal ganglion and DRG neurons.
Our results demonstrate intra- and interfamily phenotypic diversity in pain syndromes produced by a gain-of-function variant of NaV1.7.
PMCID: PMC3248882  PMID: 22136189
13.  Nodes of Ranvier Act as Barriers to Restrict Invasion of Flanking Paranodal Domains in Myelinated Axons 
Neuron  2011;69(2):244-257.
Accumulation of voltage gated sodium (Nav) channels at nodes of Ranvier is paramount for action potential propagation along myelinated fibers, yet the mechanisms governing nodal development, organization and stabilization remain unresolved. Here, we report that genetic ablation of the neuron-specific isoform of Neurofascin (NfascNF186) in vivo results in nodal disorganization, including loss of Nav channel and ankyrin-G (AnkG) enrichment at nodes in the peripheral (PNS) and central (CNS) nervous systems. Interestingly, the presence of paranodal domains failed to rescue nodal organization in the PNS and the CNS. Most importantly, using ultrastructural analysis, we demonstrate that the paranodal domains invade the nodal space in NfascNF186 mutant axons and occlude node formation. Our results suggest that NfascNF186-dependent assembly of the nodal complex acts as a molecular boundary to restrict the movement of flanking paranodal domains into the nodal area, thereby facilitating the stereotypic axonal domain organization and saltatory conduction along myelinated axons.
PMCID: PMC3035172  PMID: 21262464
14.  Expression of sodium channels Nav1.2 and Nav1.6 during postnatal development of the retina 
Neuroscience letters  2006;403(3):315-317.
During the second and third postnatal weeks, there is a developmental switch from sodium channel isoform Nav1.2 to isoform Nav1.6 at initial segments and nodes of Ranvier in rat retinal ganglion cells. We used quantitative, real-time PCR to determine if the developmental appearance of Nav1.6 channels is accompanied by an increase in steady-state level of Nav1.6 mRNA in the retina. Between postnatal day 2 (P2) and P10, Nav1.6 levels did not change, but between P10 and P19, there was an approximately 3-fold increase in Nav1.6 transcript levels. This coincides with the appearance of Nav1.6 channels in the retina and optic nerve. The steady-state level of Nav1.2 mRNA also increased during this same period, which suggests that the rise in Nav1.6 may be part of a general increase in sodium channel transcripts at about the time of eye-opening at P14. The results are consistent with a developmental increase in steady-state transcripts giving rise to a corresponding increase in sodium channel protein expression.
PMCID: PMC1819474  PMID: 16753259
retinal ganglion cell; sodium channels; quantitative PCR; axon initial segment; retina development
15.  Protein kinase CK2 contributes to the organization of sodium channels in axonal membranes by regulating their interactions with ankyrin G 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2008;183(6):1101-1114.
In neurons, generation and propagation of action potentials requires the precise accumulation of sodium channels at the axonal initial segment (AIS) and in the nodes of Ranvier through ankyrin G scaffolding. We found that the ankyrin-binding motif of Nav1.2 that determines channel concentration at the AIS depends on a glutamate residue (E1111), but also on several serine residues (S1112, S1124, and S1126). We showed that phosphorylation of these residues by protein kinase CK2 (CK2) regulates Nav channel interaction with ankyrins. Furthermore, we observed that CK2 is highly enriched at the AIS and the nodes of Ranvier in vivo. An ion channel chimera containing the Nav1.2 ankyrin-binding motif perturbed endogenous sodium channel accumulation at the AIS, whereas phosphorylation-deficient chimeras did not. Finally, inhibition of CK2 activity reduced sodium channel accumulation at the AIS of neurons. In conclusion, CK2 contributes to sodium channel organization by regulating their interaction with ankyrin G.
PMCID: PMC2600743  PMID: 19064667
16.  Post-Transcriptional Alterations in the Expression of Cardiac Sodium Channel Subunits in Chronic Heart Failure 
Clinical and experimental evidence has recently accumulated about the importance of alterations of Na+ channel (NaCh) function and slow myocardial conduction for arrhythmias in infarcted and failing hearts (HF). The present study evaluated the molecular mechanisms of local alterations in the expression of NaCh subunits which underlie Na+ current (INa) density decrease in HF. HF was induced in 5 dogs by sequential coronary microembolization and developed approximately 3 months after the last embolization (left ventricle, LV, ejection fraction = 27±7%). 5 normal dogs served as a control group. Ventricular cardiomyocytes (VCs) were isolated enzymatically from LV mid-myocardium and INa was measured by whole-cell patch-clamp. The mRNA encoding the cardiac-specific sodium channel (NaCh) α-subunit Nav1.5, and one of its auxiliary subunits β1 (NaChβ1), was analyzed by competitive RT-PCR. Protein levels of Nav1.5, NaChβ1 and NaChβ2 were evaluated by Western blotting. The maximum density of INa/Cm was decreased in HF (n=5) compared to control hearts (32.3±2.6 vs. 50.8±6.5 pA/pF, mean±SEM, n=5, P<0.05). The steady-state inactivation and activation of INa remained unchanged in HF compared to control hearts. The levels of mRNA encoding Nav1.5, and NaChβ1 were unaltered in failing hearts. However, Nav1.5 protein expression was reduced about 30% in HF, while NaChβ1 and NaChβ2 protein were unchanged. We conclude that experimental HF in dogs results in post-transcriptional changes in cardiac NaCh α-subunit expression.
PMCID: PMC2408747  PMID: 15242739
heart failure; sodium channel; β-subunits; patch clamp; RT-PCR; Western blot
17.  Nav1.7 expression is increased in painful human dental pulp 
Molecular Pain  2008;4:16.
Animal studies and a few human studies have shown a change in sodium channel (NaCh) expression after inflammatory lesions, and this change is implicated in the generation of pain states. We are using the extracted human tooth as a model system to study peripheral pain mechanisms and here examine the expression of the Nav1.7 NaCh isoform in normal and painful samples. Pulpal sections were labeled with antibodies against: 1) Nav1.7, N52 and PGP9.5, and 2) Nav1.7, caspr (a paranodal protein used to identify nodes of Ranvier), and myelin basic protein (MBP), and a z-series of optically-sectioned images were obtained with the confocal microscope. Nav1.7-immunofluorescence was quantified in N52/PGP9.5-identified nerve fibers with NIH ImageJ software, while Nav1.7 expression in myelinated fibers at caspr-identified nodal sites was evaluated and further characterized as either typical or atypical as based on caspr-relationships.
Results show a significant increase in nerve area with Nav1.7 expression within coronal and radicular fiber bundles and increased expression at typical and atypical caspr-identified nodal sites in painful samples. Painful samples also showed an augmentation of Nav1.7 within localized areas that lacked MBP, including those associated with atypical caspr-identified sites, thus identifying NaCh remodeling within demyelinating axons as the basis for a possible pulpal pain mechanism.
This study identifies the increased axonal expression and augmentation of Nav1.7 at intact and remodeling/demyelinating nodes within the painful human dental pulp where these changes may contribute to constant, increased evoked and spontaneous pain responses that characterize the pain associated with toothache.
PMCID: PMC2377237  PMID: 18426592
18.  Structural Basis for the Modulation of the Neuronal Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel NaV1.6 by Calmodulin 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:2435.
The neuronal-voltage gated sodium channel (VGSC), NaV1.6, plays an important role in propagating action potentials along myelinated axons. Calmodulin (CaM) is known to modulate the inactivation kinetics of NaV1.6 by interacting with its IQ motif. Here we report the crystal structure of apo-CaM:NaV1.6IQ motif, along with functional studies. The IQ motif of NaV1.6 adopts an α-helical conformation in its interaction with the C-lobe of CaM. CaM uses different residues to interact with NaV1.6IQ motif depending on the presence or absence of Ca2+. Three residues from NaV1.6, Arg1902, Tyr1904 and Arg1905 were identified as the key common interacting residues in both the presence and absence of Ca2+. Substitution of Arg1902 and Tyr1904 with alanine showed a reduced rate of NaV1.6 inactivation in electrophysiological experiments in vivo. Compared with other CaM:NaV complexes, our results reveal a different mode of interaction for CaM:NaV1.6 and provides structural insight into the isoform-specific modulation of VGSCs.
PMCID: PMC3743062  PMID: 23942337
19.  Functional Properties and Differential Neuromodulation of Nav1.6 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.
PMCID: PMC3433175  PMID: 18599309
20.  MOG1 Rescues Defective Trafficking of Nav1.5 Mutations in Brugada Syndrome and Sick Sinus Syndrome 
Loss-of-function mutations in Nav1.5 cause sodium channelopathies, including Brugada syndrome (BrS), dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), and sick sinus syndrome (SSS), however, no effective therapy exists. MOG1 increases plasma membrane (PM) expression of Nav1.5 and sodium current (INa) density, thus we hypothesize that MOG1 can serve as a therapeutic target for sodium channelopathies.
Methods and Results
Knockdown of MOG1 expression using siRNAs reduced Nav1.5 PM expression, decreased INa densities by 2-fold in HEK/Nav1.5 cells and nearly abolished INa in mouse cardiomyocytes. MOG1 did not affect Nav1.5 PM turnover. MOG1 siRNAs caused retention of Nav1.5 in endoplasmic reticulum, disrupted the distribution of Nav1.5 into caveolin3-enriched microdomains, and led to redistribution of Nav1.5 to non-caveolin-rich domains. MOG1 fully rescued the reduced PM expression and INa densities by Nav1.5 trafficking defective mutation D1275N associated with SSS/DCM/atrial arrhythmias. For BrS mutation G1743R, MOG1 restored the impaired PM expression of the mutant protein, and restored INa in a heterozygous state (mixture of wild-type and mutant Nav1.5) to a full level of a homozygous wild-type state.
Use of MOG1 to enhance Nav1.5 trafficking to PM may be a potential personalized therapeutic approach for some patients with BrS, DCM and SSS in the future.
PMCID: PMC3633223  PMID: 23420830
cardiac sodium channel Nav1.5; SCN5A; MOG1; cell surface expression; ion channel trafficking
21.  Selective γ-ketoaldehyde scavengers protect NaV1.5 from oxidant-induced inactivation 
The cardiac sodium channel (SCN5A, NaV1.5) is a key determinant of electrical impulse conduction in cardiac tissue. Acute myocardial infarction leads to diminished sodium channel availability, both because of decreased channel expression and because of greater inactivation of channels already present. Myocardial infarction leads to significant increases in reactive oxygen species and their downstream effectors including lipoxidation products. The effects of reactive oxygen species on NaV1.5 function in whole hearts can be modeled in cultured myocytes, where oxidants shift the availability curve of INa to hyperpolarized potentials, decreasing cardiac sodium current at the normal activation threshold. We recently examined potential mediators of the oxidant-induced inactivation, and found that one specific lipoxidation product, the isoketals, recapitulated the effects of oxidant on sodium currents. Isoketals are highly reactive γ-ketoaldehydes formed by the peroxidation of arachidonic acid that covalently modify the lysine residues of proteins. We now confirm that exposure to oxidants induces lipoxidative modification of NaV1.5 and that the selective isoketal scavengers block voltage dependent changes in sodium current by the oxidant tert-butylhydroperoxide, both in cells heterologously expressing NaV1.5 and in a mouse cardiac myocyte cell line (HL-1). Thus, inhibition of this lipoxidative modification pathway is sufficient to protect the sodium channel from oxidant induced inactivation and suggests the potential use of isoketal scavengers as novel therapeutics to prevent arrhythmogenesis during myocardial infarction.
PMCID: PMC2818591  PMID: 19962379
ion channels; oxidative stress; reactive carbonyls; arrhythmia
22.  Comparative Effects of Halogenated Inhaled Anesthetics on Voltage-gated Na+ Channel Function 
Anesthesiology  2009;110(3):582-590.
Inhibition of voltage-gated Na+ channels (Nav) is implicated in the synaptic actions of volatile anesthetics. We studied the effects of the major halogenated inhaled anesthetics (halothane, isoflurane, sevoflurane, enflurane and desflurane) on Nav1.4, a well characterized pharmacological model for Nav effects.
Na+ currents (INa) from rat Nav1.4 α-subunits heterologously expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells were analyzed by whole cell voltage-clamp electrophysiological recording.
Halogenated inhaled anesthetics reversibly inhibited Nav1.4 in a concentration- and voltage-dependent manner at clinical concentrations. At equi-anesthetic concentrations, peak INa was inhibited with a rank order of desflurane > halothane ≈ enflurane > isoflurane ≈ sevoflurane from a physiological holding potential (−80 mV). This suggests that the contribution of Na+ channel block to anesthesia might vary in an agent-specific manner. From a hyperpolarized holding potential that minimizes inactivation (−120 mV), peak INa was inhibited with a rank order of potency for tonic inhibition of peak INa of halothane > isoflurane ≈ sevoflurane > enflurane > desflurane. Desflurane produced the largest negative shift in voltage-dependence of fast inactivation consistent with its more prominent voltage-dependent effects. A comparison between isoflurane and halothane showed that halothane produced greater facilitation of current decay, slowing of recovery from fast inactivation, and use-dependent block than isoflurane.
Five halogenated inhaled anesthetics all inhibit a voltage-gated Na+ channel by voltage- and use-dependent mechanisms. Agent-specific differences in efficacy for Na+ channel inhibition due to differential state-dependent mechanisms creates pharmacologic diversity that could underlie subtle differences in anesthetic and nonanesthetic actions.
PMCID: PMC2699670  PMID: 19225394
23.  Characterization of the axon initial segment (AIS) of motor neurons and identification of a para-AIS and a juxtapara-AIS, organized by protein 4.1B 
BMC Biology  2011;9:66.
The axon initial segment (AIS) plays a crucial role: it is the site where neurons initiate their electrical outputs. Its composition in terms of voltage-gated sodium (Nav) and voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels, as well as its length and localization determine the neuron's spiking properties. Some neurons are able to modulate their AIS length or distance from the soma in order to adapt their excitability properties to their activity level. It is therefore crucial to characterize all these parameters and determine where the myelin sheath begins in order to assess a neuron's excitability properties and ability to display such plasticity mechanisms. If the myelin sheath starts immediately after the AIS, another question then arises as to how would the axon be organized at its first myelin attachment site; since AISs are different from nodes of Ranvier, would this particular axonal region resemble a hemi-node of Ranvier?
We have characterized the AIS of mouse somatic motor neurons. In addition to constant determinants of excitability properties, we found heterogeneities, in terms of AIS localization and Nav composition. We also identified in all α motor neurons a hemi-node-type organization, with a contactin-associated protein (Caspr)+ paranode-type, as well as a Caspr2+ and Kv1+ juxtaparanode-type compartment, referred to as a para-AIS and a juxtapara (JXP)-AIS, adjacent to the AIS, where the myelin sheath begins. We found that Kv1 channels appear in the AIS, para-AIS and JXP-AIS concomitantly with myelination and are progressively excluded from the para-AIS. Their expression in the AIS and JXP-AIS is independent from transient axonal glycoprotein-1 (TAG-1)/Caspr2, in contrast to juxtaparanodes, and independent from PSD-93. Data from mice lacking the cytoskeletal linker protein 4.1B show that this protein is necessary to form the Caspr+ para-AIS barrier, ensuring the compartmentalization of Kv1 channels and the segregation of the AIS, para-AIS and JXP-AIS.
α Motor neurons have heterogeneous AISs, which underlie different spiking properties. However, they all have a para-AIS and a JXP-AIS contiguous to their AIS, where the myelin sheath begins, which might limit some AIS plasticity. Protein 4.1B plays a key role in ensuring the proper molecular compartmentalization of this hemi-node-type region.
PMCID: PMC3198992  PMID: 21958379
24.  Molecular Reconstruction of Nodes of Ranvier after Remyelination by Transplanted Olfactory Ensheathing Cells in the Demyelinated Spinal Cord 
Myelin-forming glial cells transplanted into the demyelinated spinal cord can form compact myelin and improve conduction properties. However, little is known of the expression and organization of voltage-gated ion channels in the remyelinated central axons or whether the exogenous cells provide appropriate signaling for the maturation of nodes of Ranvier. Here, we transplanted olfactory ensheathing cells from green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing donor rats [GFP-olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs)] into a region of spinal cord demyelination and found extensive remyelination, which included the development of mature nodal, paranodal, and juxtaparanodal domains, as assessed by ultrastructural, immunocytochemical, and electrophysiological analyses. In remyelinated axons, Nav1.6 was clustered at nodes, whereas Kv1.2 was aggregated in juxtaparanodal regions, recapitulating the distribution of these channels within mature nodes of uninjured axons. Moreover, the recruitment of Nav and Kv channels to specific membrane domains at remyelinated nodes persisted for at least 8 weeks after GFP-OEC transplantation. In vivo electrophysiological recordings demonstrated enhanced conduction along the GFP-OEC-remyelinated axons. These findings indicate that, in addition to forming myelin, engrafted GFP-OECs provide an environment that supports the development and maturation of nodes of Ranvier and the restoration of impulse conduction in central demyelinated axons.
PMCID: PMC2605396  PMID: 16467529
axon; spinal cord injury; potassium channels; olfactory bulb; sodium channel; remyelination; transplantation; demyelination
25.  Deconstructing voltage sensor function and pharmacology in sodium channels 
Nature  2008;456(7219):202-208.
Voltage-activated sodium (Nav) channels are crucial for the generation and propagation of nerve impulses, and as such are amongst the most widely targeted ion channels by toxins and drugs. The four voltage sensors in Nav channels have distinct amino acid sequences, raising fundamental questions about their relative contributions to the function and pharmacology of the channel. Here we use four-fold symmetric voltage-activated potassium (Kv) channels as reporters to examine the contributions of individual Nav channel S3b-S4 paddle motifs to the kinetics of voltage sensor activation and to forming toxin receptors. Our results uncover binding sites for toxins from tarantula and scorpion venom on each of the four paddle motifs in Nav channels and reveal how paddle-specific interactions can be used to reshape Nav channel activity. One paddle motif is unique in that it slows voltage sensor activation and toxins selectively targeting this motif impede Nav channel inactivation. This reporter approach and the principles that emerge will be useful in developing new drugs for treating pain and Nav channelopathies.
PMCID: PMC2587061  PMID: 19005548

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