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.
We compared the clinical and physiological consequences of the novel mutation R878C in a highly conserved pore residue in domain II (S5-S6) of human, hNav1.5, cardiac Na+ channels.
Full clinical evaluation of pedigree members through three generations of a Chinese family combined with SCN5A sequencing from genomic DNA was compared with patch and voltage-clamp results from two independent expression systems.
The four mutation carriers showed bradycardia, and slowed sino-atrial, atrioventricular and intraventricular conduction. Two also showed sick sinus syndrome; two had ST elevation in leads V1 and V2. Unlike WT-hNav1.5, whole-cell patch-clamped HEK293 cells expressing R878C-hNav1.5 showed no detectable Na+ currents (iNa), even with substitution of a similarly charged lysine residue. Voltage-clamped Xenopus oocytes injected with either 0.04 or 1.5 μg μL−1 R878C-hNav1.5 cRNA similarly showed no iNa, yet WT-hNav1.5 cRNA diluted to 0.0004–0.0008 ng μL−1resulted in expression of detectable iNa. iNa was simply determined by the amount of injected WT-hNav1.5: doubling the dose of WT-hNav1.5 cRNA doubled iNa. iNa amplitudes and activation and inactivation characteristics were similar irrespective of whether WT-hNav1.5 cRNA was given alone or combined with equal doses of R878C-hNav1.5 cRNA therefore excluding dominant negative phenotypic effects. Na+ channel function in HEK293 cells transfected with R878C-hNav1.5 was not restored by exposure to mexiletine (200 μm) and lidocaine (100 μm). Fluorescence confocal microscopy using E3-Nav1.5 antibody demonstrated persistent membrane expression of both WT and R878C-hNav1.5. Modelling studies confirmed that such iNa reductions reproduced the SSS phenotype.
Clinical consequences of the novel R878C mutation correlate with results of physiological studies.
cardiac Na+ channels; novel mutation; pore-forming region; SCN5A; sick sinus syndrome
Functional alterations in the properties of Aβ afferent fibers may account for the increased pain sensitivity observed under peripheral chronic inflammation. Among the voltage-gated sodium channels involved in the pathophysiology of pain, Nav1.8 has been shown to participate in the peripheral sensitization of nociceptors. However, to date, there is no evidence for a role of Nav1.8 in controlling Aβ-fiber excitability following persistent inflammation.
Distribution and expression of Nav1.8 in dorsal root ganglia and sciatic nerves were qualitatively or quantitatively assessed by immunohistochemical staining and by real time-polymerase chain reaction at different time points following complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) administration. Using a whole-cell patch-clamp configuration, we further determined both total INa and TTX-R Nav1.8 currents in large-soma dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons isolated from sham or CFA-treated rats. Finally, we analyzed the effects of ambroxol, a Nav1.8-preferring blocker on the electrophysiological properties of Nav1.8 currents and on the mechanical sensitivity and inflammation of the hind paw in CFA-treated rats.
Our findings revealed that Nav1.8 is up-regulated in NF200-positive large sensory neurons and is subsequently anterogradely transported from the DRG cell bodies along the axons toward the periphery after CFA-induced inflammation. We also demonstrated that both total INa and Nav1.8 peak current densities are enhanced in inflamed large myelinated Aβ-fiber neurons. Persistent inflammation leading to nociception also induced time-dependent changes in Aβ-fiber neuron excitability by shifting the voltage-dependent activation of Nav1.8 in the hyperpolarizing direction, thus decreasing the current threshold for triggering action potentials. Finally, we found that ambroxol significantly reduces the potentiation of Nav1.8 currents in Aβ-fiber neurons observed following intraplantar CFA injection and concomitantly blocks CFA-induced mechanical allodynia, suggesting that Nav1.8 regulation in Aβ-fibers contributes to inflammatory pain.
Collectively, these findings support a key role for Nav1.8 in controlling the excitability of Aβ-fibers and its potential contribution to the development of mechanical allodynia under persistent inflammation.
Aβ-fibers; Allodynia; Complete Freund’s adjuvant; Electrophysiology; Sodium channel blocker
NaV1.5 is a mechanosensitive voltage gated sodium-selective ion channel responsible for the depolarizing current and maintenance of the action potential plateau in the heart. Ranolazine is a NaV1.5 antagonist with anti-anginal and anti-arrhythmic properties.
Methods and Results
Mechanosensitivity of NaV1.5 was tested in voltage-clamped whole cells and cell-attached patches by bath flow and patch pressure, respectively. In whole cells, bath flow increased peak inward current in both murine ventricular cardiac myocytes (24±8%) and HEK cells heterologously expressing NaV1.5 (18±3%). The flow-induced increases in peak current were blocked by ranolazine. In cell-attached patches from cardiac myocytes and NaV1.5-expressing HEK cells, negative pressure increased NaV peak currents by 27±18% and 18±4% and hyperpolarized voltage dependence of activation by -11 mV and -10 mV, respectively. In HEK cells, negative pressure also increased the window current (250%) and increased late open channel events (250%). Ranolazine decreased pressure-induced shift in the voltage-dependence (IC50 54 μM) and eliminated the pressure-induced increases in window current and late current event numbers. Block of NaV1.5 mechanosensitivity by ranolazine was not due to the known binding site on DIVS6 (F1760). The effect of ranolazine on mechanosensitivity of NaV1.5 was approximated by lidocaine. However, ionized ranolazine and charged lidocaine analog (QX-314) failed to block mechanosensitivity.
Ranolazine effectively inhibits mechanosensitivity of NaV1.5. The block of NaV1.5 mechanosensitivity by ranolazine does not utilize the established binding site, and may require bilayer partitioning. Ranolazine block of NaV1.5 mechanosensitivity may be relevant in disorders of mechano-electric dysfunction.
drugs; electrophysiology; ion channels; mechanics; myocytes
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.
Insect sodium channel; Insecticide; Indoxacarb; DCJW; Xenopus oocyte
Neural tissue injuries render voltage-gated Na+ channels (Nav) leaky, thereby altering excitability, disrupting propagation and causing neuropathic pain related ectopic activity. In both recombinant systems and native excitable membranes, membrane damage causes the kinetically-coupled activation and inactivation processes of Nav channels to undergo hyperpolarizing shifts. This damage-intensity dependent change, called coupled left-shift (CLS), yields a persistent or “subthreshold” Nav window conductance. Nodes of Ranvier simulations involving various degrees of mild CLS showed that, as the system’s channel/pump fluxes attempt to re-establish ion homeostasis, the CLS elicits hyperexcitability, subthreshold oscillations and neuropathic type action potential (AP) bursts. CLS-induced intermittent propagation failure was studied in simulations of stimulated axons, but pump contributions were ignored, leaving open an important question: does mild-injury (small CLS values, pumps functioning well) render propagation-competent but still quiescent axons vulnerable to further impairments as the system attempts to cope with its normal excitatory inputs? We probe this incipient diffuse axonal injury scenario using a 10-node myelinated axon model. Fully restabilized nodes with mild damage can, we show, become ectopic signal generators (“ectopic nodes”) because incoming APs stress Na+/K+ gradients, thereby altering spike thresholds. Comparable changes could contribute to acquired sodium channelopathies as diverse as epileptic phenomena and to the neuropathic amplification of normally benign sensory inputs. Input spike patterns, we found, propagate with good fidelity through an ectopically firing site only when their frequencies exceed the ectopic frequency. This “propagation window” is a robust phenomenon, occurring despite Gaussian noise, large jitter and the presence of several consecutive ectopic nodes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10827-014-0521-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Ectopicity onset; Phase locking; Neuropathic pain; Coupled left-shift (CLS); Nav1.6 acquired channelopathies
Voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs) play a key role in the initiation and propagation of action potentials in neurons. NaV1.8 is a tetrodotoxin (TTX) resistant VGSC expressed in nociceptors, peripheral small-diameter neurons able to detect noxious stimuli. NaV1.8 underlies the vast majority of sodium currents during action potentials. Many studies have highlighted a key role for NaV1.8 in inflammatory and chronic pain models. Lipid rafts are microdomains of the plasma membrane highly enriched in cholesterol and sphingolipids. Lipid rafts tune the spatial and temporal organisation of proteins and lipids on the plasma membrane. They are thought to act as platforms on the membrane where proteins and lipids can be trafficked, compartmentalised and functionally clustered. In the present study we investigated NaV1.8 sub-cellular localisation and explored the idea that it is associated with lipid rafts in nociceptors. We found that NaV1.8 is distributed in clusters along the axons of DRG neurons in vitro and ex vivo. We also demonstrated, by biochemical and imaging studies, that NaV1.8 is associated with lipid rafts along the sciatic nerve ex vivo and in DRG neurons in vitro. Moreover, treatments with methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MβCD) and 7-ketocholesterol (7KC) led to the dissociation between rafts and NaV1.8. By calcium imaging we demonstrated that the lack of association between rafts and NaV1.8 correlated with impaired neuronal excitability, highlighted by a reduction in the number of neurons able to conduct mechanically- and chemically-evoked depolarisations. These findings reveal the sub-cellular localisation of NaV1.8 in nociceptors and highlight the importance of the association between NaV1.8 and lipid rafts in the control of nociceptor excitability.
NaV channels play a crucial role in neuronal and muscle excitability. Using whole-cell recordings we studied effects of low extracellular pH on the biophysical properties of NaV1.2, NaV1.4, and NaV1.5, expressed in cultured mammalian cells. Low pH produced different effects on different channel subtypes. Whereas NaV1.4 exhibited very low sensitivity to acidosis, primarily limited to partial block of macroscopic currents, the effects of low pH on gating in NaV1.2 and NaV1.5 were profound. In NaV1.2 low pH reduced apparent valence of steady-state fast inactivation, shifted the τ(V) to depolarizing potentials and decreased channels availability during onset to slow and use-dependent inactivation (UDI). In contrast, low pH delayed open-state inactivation in NaV1.5, right-shifted the voltage-dependence of window current, and increased channel availability during onset to slow and UDI. These results suggest that protons affect channel availability in an isoform-specific manner. A computer model incorporating these results demonstrates their effects on membrane excitability.
gating; activation; fast inactivation; slow inactivation; patch-clamp; sodium channels
The voltage-gated sodium channel (Nav) plays a key role in regulation of neuronal excitability. Aberrant regulation of Nav expression and/or function can result in an imbalance in neuronal activity which can progress to epilepsy. Regulation of Nav activity is achieved by coordination of a multitude of mechanisms including RNA alternative splicing and translational repression. Understanding of these regulatory mechanisms is complicated by extensive genetic redundancy: the mammalian genome encodes ten Navs. By contrast, the genome of the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster, contains just one Nav homologue, encoded by paralytic (DmNav). Analysis of splicing in DmNav shows variants exhibit distinct gating properties including varying magnitudes of persistent sodium current (INaP). Splicing by Pasilla, an identified RNA splicing factor, alters INaP magnitude as part of an activity-dependent mechanism. Enhanced INaP promotes membrane hyperexcitability that is associated with seizure-like behaviour in Drosophila. Nova-2, a mammalian Pasilla homologue, has also been linked to splicing of Navs and, moreover, mouse gene knockouts display seizure-like behaviour.
Expression level of Navs is also regulated through a mechanism of translational repression in both flies and mammals. The translational repressor Pumilio (Pum) can bind to Nav transcripts and repress the normal process of translation, thus regulating sodium current (INa) density in neurons. Pum2-deficient mice exhibit spontaneous EEG abnormalities. Taken together, aberrant regulation of Nav function and/or expression is often epileptogenic. As such, a better understanding of regulation of membrane excitability through RNA alternative splicing and translational repression of Navs should provide new leads to treat epilepsy.
Excitability; Drosophila; Epilepsy; Paralytic; Splicing; Translational repression
In excitable cells, voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels activate to initiate action potentials and then undergo fast and slow inactivation processes that terminate their ionic conductance1,2. Inactivation is a hallmark of NaV channel function and is critical for control of membrane excitability3, but the structural basis for this process has remained elusive. Here we report crystallographic snapshots of the wild-type NavAb channel from Arcobacter butzleri captured in two potentially inactivated states at 3.2 Å resolution. Compared to previous structures of NavAb S6-cysteine mutants4, the pore-lining S6 helices and the intracellular activation gate have undergone significant rearrangements in which one pair of S6 segments has collapsed toward the central pore axis and the other S6 pair has moved outward to produce a striking dimer-of-dimers configuration. An increase in global structural asymmetry is observed throughout our wild-type NavAb models, reshaping the ion selectivity filter at the extracellular end of the pore, the central cavity and its residues analogous to the mammalian drug receptor site, and the lateral pore fenestrations. The voltage-sensing domains also shift around the perimeter of the pore module in NavAb, and local structural changes identify a conserved interaction network that connects distant molecular determinants involved in NaV channel gating and inactivation. These potential inactivated-state structures provide new insights into NaV channel gating and novel avenues to drug development and therapy for a range of debilitating NaV channelopathies.
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
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.
Voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav) mediate neuronal action potentials. Tetrodotoxin inhibits all Nav isoforms, but Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 are relatively tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-r) compared to other isoforms. Nav1.8 is highly expressed in dorsal root ganglion neurons and is functionally linked to nociception, but the sensitivity of TTX-r isoforms to inhaled anesthetics is unclear.
The sensitivities of heterologously expressed rat TTX-r Nav1.8 and endogenous tetrodotoxin-sensitive (TTX-s) Nav to the prototypic inhaled anesthetic isoflurane were tested in mammalian ND7/23 cells using patch-clamp electrophysiology.
From a holding potential of −70 mV, isoflurane (0.53±0.06 mM, ~1.8 MAC at 24°C) reduced normalized peak Na+ current (INa) of Nav1.8 to 0.55±0.03 and of endogenous TTX-s Nav to 0.56±0.06. Isoflurane minimally inhibited INa from a holding potential of −140 mV. Isoflurane did not affect voltage-dependence of activation, but significantly shifted voltage-dependence of steady-state inactivation by −6 mV for Nav1.8 and by −7 mV for TTX-s Nav. IC50 values for inhibition of peak INa were 0.67±0.06 mM for Nav1.8 and 0.66±0.09 mM for TTX-s Nav; significant inhibition occurred at clinically relevant concentrations as low as 0.58 MAC. Isoflurane produced use-dependent block of Nav1.8; at a stimulation frequency of 10 Hz, 0.56±0.08 mM isoflurane reduced INa to 0.64±0.01 vs. 0.78±0.01 for control.
Isoflurane inhibited the tetrodotoxin-resistant isoform Nav1.8 with potency comparable to that for endogenous tetrodotoxin-sensitive Nav isoforms, indicating that sensitivity to inhaled anesthetics is conserved across diverse Nav family members. Block of Nav1.8 in dorsal root ganglion neurons could contribute to the effects of inhaled anesthetics on peripheral nociceptive mechanisms.
Sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) express multiple voltage-gated sodium (Na) channels that substantially differ in gating kinetics and pharmacology. Small-diameter (<25 µm) neurons isolated from the rat DRG express a combination of fast tetrodotoxin-sensitive (TTX-S) and slow TTX-resistant (TTX-R) Na currents while large-diameter neurons (>30 µm) predominately express fast TTX-S Na current. Na channel expression was further investigated using single-cell RT-PCR to measure the transcripts present in individually harvested DRG neurons. Consistent with cellular electrophysiology, the small neurons expressed transcripts encoding for both TTX-S (Nav1.1, Nav1.2, Nav1.6, Nav1.7) and TTX-R (Nav1.8, Nav1.9) Na channels. Nav1.7, Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 were the predominant Na channels expressed in the small neurons. The large neurons highly expressed TTX-S isoforms (Nav1.1, Nav1.6, Nav1.7) while TTX-R channels were present at comparatively low levels. A unique subpopulation of the large neurons was identified that expressed TTX-R Na current and high levels of Nav1.8 transcript. DRG neurons also displayed substantial differences in the expression of neurofilaments (NF200, peripherin) and Necl-1, a neuronal adhesion molecule involved in myelination. The preferential expression of NF200 and Necl-1 suggests that large-diameter neurons give rise to thick myelinated axons. Small-diameter neurons expressed peripherin, but reduced levels of NF200 and Necl-1, a pattern more consistent with thin unmyelinated axons. Single-cell analysis of Na channel transcripts indicates that TTX-S and TTX-R Na channels are differentially expressed in large myelinated (Nav1.1, Nav1.6, Nav1.7) and small unmyelinated (Nav1.7, Nav1.8, Nav1.9) sensory neurons.
Sodium channel; dorsal root ganglia; single-cell RT-PCR; Necl-1; NF200; peripherin
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.
voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs); Navs β-subunits; glycosylation; biophysical properties; trafficking
Reentrant arrhythmias often develop in the setting of myocardial infarction and ensuing slow propagation. Increased Na+ channel expression could prevent or disrupt reentrant circuits by speeding conduction if channel availability is not limited by membrane depolarization within the diseased myocardium. We therefore asked if, in the setting of membrane depolarization, action potential (AP) upstroke and normal conduction can be better preserved by the expression of a Na+ channel isoform with altered biophysical properties compared to the native cardiac Na+ channel isoform, namely having a positively shifted, voltage-dependent inactivation.
Methods and results
The skeletal Na+ channel isoform (SkM1) and the cardiac Na+ channel isoform (Nav1.5) were expressed in newborn rat ventricular myocyte cultures with a point mutation introduced in Nav1.5 to increase tetrodotoxin (TTX) sensitivity so native and expressed currents could be distinguished. External K+ was increased from 5.4 to 10 mmol/L to induce membrane depolarization. APs, Na+ currents, and conduction velocity (CV) were measured. In control cultures, elevated K+ significantly reduced AP upstroke (∼75%) and CV (∼25%). Expression of Nav1.5 did not protect AP upstroke from K+ depolarization. In contrast, in SkM1 expressing cultures, high K+ reduced AP upstroke <50% and conduction was not significantly reduced. In a simulated anatomical reentry setting (using a void), the angular velocity (AV) of induced reentry was faster and the excitable gap shorter in SkM1 cultures compared to control for both normal and high K+.
Expression of SkM1 but not Nav1.5 preserves AP upstroke and CV in a K+-depolarized syncytium. The higher AV and shorter excitable gap observed during reentry excitation around a void in SkM1 cultures would be expected to facilitate reentry self-termination. SkM1 Na+ channel expression represents a novel gene therapy for the treatment of reentrant arrhythmias.
Na+ channel; Gene therapy; Arrhythmia; Conduction; Mapping
Despite increasing evidence for the presence of voltage-gated Na+ channels (Nav) isoforms and measurements of Nav channel currents with the patch-clamp technique in arterial myocytes, no information is available to date as to whether or not Nav channels play a functional role in arteries. The aim of the present work was to look for a physiological role of Nav channels in the control of rat aortic contraction.
Nav channels were detected in the aortic media by Western blot analysis and double immunofluorescence labeling for Nav channels and smooth muscle α-actin using specific antibodies. In parallel, using real time RT-PCR, we identified three Nav transcripts: Nav1.2, Nav1.3, and Nav1.5. Only the Nav1.2 isoform was found in the intact media and in freshly isolated myocytes excluding contamination by other cell types. Using the specific Nav channel agonist veratridine and antagonist tetrodotoxin (TTX), we unmasked a contribution of these channels in the response to the depolarizing agent KCl on rat aortic isometric tension recorded from endothelium-denuded aortic rings. Experimental conditions excluded a contribution of Nav channels from the perivascular sympathetic nerve terminals. Addition of low concentrations of KCl (2–10 mM), which induced moderate membrane depolarization (e.g., from −55.9±1.4 mV to −45.9±1.2 mV at 10 mmol/L as measured with microelectrodes), triggered a contraction potentiated by veratridine (100 µM) and blocked by TTX (1 µM). KB-R7943, an inhibitor of the reverse mode of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, mimicked the effect of TTX and had no additive effect in presence of TTX.
These results define a new role for Nav channels in arterial physiology, and suggest that the TTX-sensitive Nav1.2 isoform, together with the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, contributes to the contractile response of aortic myocytes at physiological range of membrane depolarization.
In ischemic and traumatic brain injury, hyperactivated glutamate (N-methyl-D-aspartic acid, NMDA) and sodium (Nav) channels trigger excitotoxic neuron death. Na+, Ca++ and H2O influx into affected neurons elicits swelling (increased cell volume) and pathological blebbing (disassociation of the plasma membrane’s bilayer from its spectrin-actomyosin matrix). Though usually conflated in injured tissue, cell swelling and blebbing are distinct processes. Around an injury core, salvageable neurons could be mildly swollen without yet having suffered the bleb-type membrane damage that, by rendering channels leaky and pumps dysfunctional, exacerbates the excitotoxic positive feedback spiral. Recognizing when neuronal inflation signifies non-lethal osmotic swelling versus blebbing should further efforts to salvage injury-penumbra neurons. To assess whether the mechanical properties of osmotically-swollen versus excitotoxically-blebbing neurons might be cytomechanically distinguishable, we measured cortical neuron elasticity (gauged via atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based force spectroscopy) upon brief exposure to hypotonicity or to excitotoxic agonists (glutamate and Nav channel activators, NMDA and veratridine). Though unperturbed by solution exchange per se, elasticity increased abruptly with hypotonicity, with NMDA and with veratridine. Neurons then invariably softened towards or below the pre-treatment level, sometimes starting before the washout. The initial channel-mediated stiffening bespeaks an abrupt elevation of hydrostatic pressure linked to NMDA or Nav channel-mediated ion/H2O fluxes, together with increased [Ca++]int-mediated submembrane actomyosin contractility. The subsequent softening to below-control levels is consistent with the onset of a lethal level of bleb damage. These findings indicate that dissection/identification of molecular events during the excitotoxic transition from stiff/swollen to soft/blebbing is warranted and should be feasible.
Voltage-gated ion channels generate action potentials in excitable cells and help set the resting membrane potential in nonexcitable cells like lymphocytes. It has been difficult to investigate what kinds of phospholipids interact with these membrane proteins in their native environments and what functional impacts such interactions create. This problem might be circumvented if we could modify specific lipid types in situ. Using certain voltage-gated K+ (KV) channels heterologously expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes as a model, our group has shown previously that sphingomyelinase (SMase) D may serve this purpose. SMase D is known to remove the choline group from sphingomyelin, a phospholipid primarily present in the outer leaflet of plasma membranes. This SMase D action lowers the energy required for voltage sensors of a KV channel to enter the activated state, causing a hyperpolarizing shift of the Q-V and G-V curves and thus activating them at more hyperpolarized potentials. Here, we find that this SMase D effect vanishes after removing most of the voltage-sensor paddle sequence, a finding supporting the notion that SMase D modification of sphingomyelin molecules alters these lipids’ interactions with voltage sensors. Then, using SMase D to probe lipid–channel interactions, we find that SMase D not only similarly stimulates voltage-gated Na+ (NaV) and Ca2+ channels but also markedly slows NaV channel inactivation. However, the latter effect is not observed in tested mammalian cells, an observation highlighting the profound impact of the membrane environment on channel function. Finally, we directly demonstrate that SMase D stimulates both native KV1.3 in nonexcitable human T lymphocytes at their typical resting membrane potential and native NaV channels in excitable cells, such that it shifts the action potential threshold in the hyperpolarized direction. These proof-of-concept studies illustrate that the voltage-gated channel activity in both excitable and nonexcitable cells can be tuned by enzymatically modifying lipid head groups.
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
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.
voltage-gated sodium channel; EF hand motif; IQ motif; calmodulin; FRET
Neuropathic pain caused by peripheral nerve injury is a chronic disorder that represents a significant clinical challenge because the pathological mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. Several studies have suggested the involvement of various sodium channels, including tetrodotoxin-resistant NaV1.8, in affected dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. We have hypothesized that altered local expression of NaV1.8 in the peripheral axons of DRG neurons could facilitate nociceptive signal generation and propagation after neuropathic injury.
After unilateral sciatic nerve entrapment injury in rats, compound action potential amplitudes were increased in both myelinated and unmyelinated fibers of the ipsilateral sciatic nerve. Tetrodotoxin resistance of both fiber populations and sciatic nerve NaV1.8 immunoreactivity were also increased. Further analysis of NaV1.8 distribution revealed that immunoreactivity and mRNA levels were decreased and unaffected, respectively, in the ipsilateral L4 and L5 DRG; however sciatic nerve NaV1.8 mRNA showed nearly an 11-fold ipsilateral increase. Nav1.8 mRNA observed in the sciatic nerve was likely of axonal origin since it was not detected in non-neuronal cells cultured from nerve tissue. Absence of changes in NaV1.8 mRNA polyadenylation suggests that increased mRNA stability was not responsible for the selective peripheral mRNA increase. Furthermore, mRNA levels of NaV1.3, NaV1.5, NaV1.6, NaV1.7, and NaV1.9 were not significantly different between ipsilateral and contralateral nerves. We therefore propose that selective NaV1.8 mRNA axonal transport and local up-regulation could contribute to the hyperexcitability of peripheral nerves in some neuropathic pain states.
Cuff entrapment injury resulted in significantly elevated axonal excitability and increased NaV1.8 immunoreactivity in rat sciatic nerves. The concomitant axonal accumulation of NaV1.8 mRNA may play a role in the pathogenesis of this model of neuropathic pain.
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.
Studies in rodents revealed that selective accumulation of Na+ channel subtypes at the axon initial segment (AIS) determines action potential (AP) initiation and backpropagation in cortical pyramidal cells (PCs); however, in human cortex, the molecular identity of Na+ channels distributed at PC axons, including the AIS and the nodes of Ranvier, remains unclear. We performed immunostaining experiments in human cortical tissues removed surgically to cure brain diseases. We found strong immunosignals of Na+ channels and two channel subtypes, NaV1.2 and NaV1.6, at the AIS of human cortical PCs. Although both channel subtypes were expressed along the entire AIS, the peak immunosignals of NaV1.2 and NaV1.6 were found at proximal and distal AIS regions, respectively. Surprisingly, in addition to the presence of NaV1.6 at the nodes of Ranvier, NaV1.2 was also found in a subpopulation of nodes in the adult human cortex, different from the absence of NaV1.2 in myelinated axons in rodents. NaV1.1 immunosignals were not detected at either the AIS or the nodes of Ranvier of PCs; however, they were expressed at interneuron axons with different distribution patterns. Further experiments revealed that parvalbumin-positive GABAergic axon cartridges selectively innervated distal AIS regions with relatively high immunosignals of NaV1.6 but not the proximal NaV1.2-enriched compartments, suggesting an important role of axo-axonic cells in regulating AP initiation in human PCs. Together, our results show that both NaV1.2 and NaV1.6 (but not NaV1.1) channel subtypes are expressed at the AIS and the nodes of Ranvier in adult human cortical PCs, suggesting that these channel subtypes control neuronal excitability and signal conduction in PC axons.
axon initial segment; human cortex; node of Ranvier; sodium channel subtype; parvalbumin; chandelier cell; pyramidal cell
Acute myocardial ischaemia induces a decrease in resting membrane potential [which leads to reduction of action potential (AP) Vmax] and intracellular acidification (which closes gap junctions). Both contribute to conduction slowing. We hypothesized that ventricular expression of the skeletal muscle Na+ channel, Nav1.4 (which activates fully at low membrane potentials), or connexin32 (Cx32, which is less pH-sensitive than connexin43) would support conduction and be antiarrhythmic. We tested this hypothesis in a murine model of ischaemia and reperfusion arrhythmias.
Methods and results
Empty adenovirus (Sham) or adenoviral constructs expressing either SkM1 (gene encoding Nav1.4) or Cx32 genes were injected into the left ventricular wall. Four days later, ventricular tachycardia (VT) occurred during reperfusion following a 5 min coronary occlusion. In Nav1.4- and Cx32-expressing mice, VT incidence and duration were lower than in Sham (P < 0.05). In vitro multisite microelectrode mapping was performed in the superfused right ventricular wall. To simulate ischaemic conditions, [K+] in solution was increased to 10 mmol/L and/or pH was decreased to 6.0. Western blots revealed Cx32 and Nav1.4 expression in both ventricles. Nav1.4 APs showed higher Vmax and conduction velocity (CV) than Shams at normal and elevated [K+]. Exposure of tissue to acid solution reduced intracellular pH to 6.4. There was no difference in CV between Sham and Cx32 groups in control solution. Acid solution slowed CV in Sham (P < 0.05) but not in Cx32.
Nav1.4 or Cx32 expression preserved normal conduction in murine hearts and decreased the incidence of reperfusion VT.
Reperfusion arrhythmias; Gene transfer; Na+ channel; Connexins; Acidosis