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1.  Molecular cloning and analysis of zebrafish voltage-gated sodium channel beta subunit genes: implications for the evolution of electrical signaling in vertebrates 
Background
Action potential generation in excitable cells such as myocytes and neurons critically depends on voltage-gated sodium channels. In mammals, sodium channels exist as macromolecular complexes that include a pore-forming alpha subunit and 1 or more modulatory beta subunits. Although alpha subunit genes have been cloned from diverse metazoans including flies, jellyfish, and humans, beta subunits have not previously been identified in any non-mammalian species. To gain further insight into the evolution of electrical signaling in vertebrates, we investigated beta subunit genes in the teleost Danio rerio (zebrafish).
Results
We identified and cloned single zebrafish gene homologs for beta1-beta3 (zbeta1-zbeta3) and duplicate genes for beta4 (zbeta4.1, zbeta4.2). Sodium channel beta subunit loci are similarly organized in fish and mammalian genomes. Unlike their mammalian counterparts, zbeta1 and zbeta2 subunit genes display extensive alternative splicing. Zebrafish beta subunit genes and their splice variants are differentially-expressed in excitable tissues, indicating tissue-specific regulation of zbeta1-4 expression and splicing. Co-expression of the genes encoding zbeta1 and the zebrafish sodium channel alpha subunit Nav1.5 in Chinese Hamster Ovary cells increased sodium current and altered channel gating, demonstrating functional interactions between zebrafish alpha and beta subunits. Analysis of the synteny and phylogeny of mammalian, teleost, amphibian, and avian beta subunit and related genes indicated that all extant vertebrate beta subunits are orthologous, that beta2/beta4 and beta1/beta3 share common ancestry, and that beta subunits are closely related to other proteins sharing the V-type immunoglobulin domain structure. Vertebrate sodium channel beta subunit genes were not identified in the genomes of invertebrate chordates and are unrelated to known subunits of the para sodium channel in Drosophila.
Conclusion
The identification of conserved orthologs to all 4 voltage-gated sodium channel beta subunit genes in zebrafish and the lack of evidence for beta subunit genes in invertebrate chordates together indicate that this gene family emerged early in vertebrate evolution, prior to the divergence of teleosts and tetrapods. The evolutionary history of sodium channel beta subunits suggests that these genes may have played a key role in the diversification and specialization of electrical signaling in early vertebrates.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-113
PMCID: PMC1971062  PMID: 17623065
2.  A remarkably stable TipE gene cluster: evolution of insect Para sodium channel auxiliary subunits 
Background
First identified in fruit flies with temperature-sensitive paralysis phenotypes, the Drosophila melanogaster TipE locus encodes four voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channel auxiliary subunits. This cluster of TipE-like genes on chromosome 3L, and a fifth family member on chromosome 3R, are important for the optional expression and functionality of the Para NaV channel but appear quite distinct from auxiliary subunits in vertebrates. Here, we exploited available arthropod genomic resources to trace the origin of TipE-like genes by mapping their evolutionary histories and examining their genomic architectures.
Results
We identified a remarkably conserved synteny block of TipE-like orthologues with well-maintained local gene arrangements from 21 insect species. Homologues in the water flea, Daphnia pulex, suggest an ancestral pancrustacean repertoire of four TipE-like genes; a subsequent gene duplication may have generated functional redundancy allowing gene losses in the silk moth and mosquitoes. Intronic nesting of the insect TipE gene cluster probably occurred following the divergence from crustaceans, but in the flour beetle and silk moth genomes the clusters apparently escaped from nesting. Across Pancrustacea, TipE gene family members have experienced intronic nesting, escape from nesting, retrotransposition, translocation, and gene loss events while generally maintaining their local gene neighbourhoods. D. melanogaster TipE-like genes exhibit coordinated spatial and temporal regulation of expression distinct from their host gene but well-correlated with their regulatory target, the Para NaV channel, suggesting that functional constraints may preserve the TipE gene cluster. We identified homology between TipE-like NaV channel regulators and vertebrate Slo-beta auxiliary subunits of big-conductance calcium-activated potassium (BKCa) channels, which suggests that ion channel regulatory partners have evolved distinct lineage-specific characteristics.
Conclusions
TipE-like genes form a remarkably conserved genomic cluster across all examined insect genomes. This study reveals likely structural and functional constraints on the genomic evolution of insect TipE gene family members maintained in synteny over hundreds of millions of years of evolution. The likely common origin of these NaV channel regulators with BKCa auxiliary subunits highlights the evolutionary plasticity of ion channel regulatory mechanisms.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-337
PMCID: PMC3240667  PMID: 22098672
3.  Human and Rat Nav1.3 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels Differ in Inactivation Properties and Sensitivity to the Pyrethroid Insecticide Tefluthrin 
Neurotoxicology  2008;30(1):81-89.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.neuro.2008.10.008
PMCID: PMC2696113  PMID: 19026681
Nav1.3; oocyte; sodium channel; pyrethroid; tefluthrin; rat; human
4.  Ionic selectivity and thermal adaptations within the voltage-gated sodium channel family of alkaliphilic Bacillus 
eLife  2014;3:e04387.
Entry and extrusion of cations are essential processes in living cells. In alkaliphilic prokaryotes, high external pH activates voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav), which allows Na+ to enter and be used as substrate for cation/proton antiporters responsible for cytoplasmic pH homeostasis. Here, we describe a new member of the prokaryotic voltage-gated Na+ channel family (NsvBa; Non-selective voltage-gated, Bacillus alcalophilus) that is nonselective among Na+, Ca2+ and K+ ions. Mutations in NsvBa can convert the nonselective filter into one that discriminates for Na+ or divalent cations. Gain-of-function experiments demonstrate the portability of ion selectivity with filter mutations to other Bacillus Nav channels. Increasing pH and temperature shifts their activation threshold towards their native resting membrane potential. Furthermore, we find drugs that target Bacillus Nav channels also block the growth of the bacteria. This work identifies some of the adaptations to achieve ion discrimination and gating in Bacillus Nav channels.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.04387.001
eLife digest
Life essentially runs on electricity: electrical signals cause nerve cells to fire, heart muscles to contract and allow organisms to sense the world around them. These signals are triggered by the movement of positively-charged ions—such as sodium, potassium and calcium—moving into a cell through special ion channels in the cell membrane, which can open and close in response to changes in the voltage across the cell membrane.
With few exceptions, voltage sensitive ion channels usually only let one type of ion pass into the cell. But how do ion channels discriminate amongst ions and how did they acquire this ability during evolution? To address these questions, researchers have studied a family of sodium channels from bacteria for the past decade. Here DeCaen et al. describe a new member from this ion channel family from a bacterium called Bacillus alcalophilus. This ion channel does not discriminate between positively-charged ions and B. alcalophilus needs this ion channel for it to dwell in environments that have high levels of potassium or sodium. DeCaen et al. demonstrate that these ion channels can be made selective for sodium or calcium with as little as two small changes in the gene that encodes the ion channel. Furthermore, making similar genetic mutations in related ion channel genes from other Bacillus species has the same effect. DeCaen et al. suggest that Bacillus ion channel genes are easily adapted to function in a variety of environmental conditions with different levels of positively-charged ions. Thus it is easier for Bacillus channels to evolve to be selective for different ions.
Bacillus bacteria divide rapidly in warm to hot temperatures and under alkaline pH. DeCaen et al. demonstrate that both of these conditions make Bacillus ion channels easier to open in response to voltage. In addition, DeCaen et al. demonstrate that Bacillus ion channels can be targeted by drugs that impair the ability of the bacteria to grow. These findings—together with other work that revealed where drug molecules bind to ion channels—could potentially guide efforts to develop treatments for illnesses caused by other Bacillus strains, which include anthrax and some forms of food poisoning.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.04387.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.04387
PMCID: PMC4225499  PMID: 25385530
ion selectivity; bacteria physiology; pharmacology; biochemical adaptations; evolution; antibiotics; None
5.  Parallel Evolution of Tetrodotoxin Resistance in Three Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel Genes in the Garter Snake Thamnophis sirtalis 
Molecular Biology and Evolution  2014;31(11):2836-2846.
Members of a gene family expressed in a single species often experience common selection pressures. Consequently, the molecular basis of complex adaptations may be expected to involve parallel evolutionary changes in multiple paralogs. Here, we use bacterial artificial chromosome library scans to investigate the evolution of the voltage-gated sodium channel (Nav) family in the garter snake Thamnophis sirtalis, a predator of highly toxic Taricha newts. Newts possess tetrodotoxin (TTX), which blocks Nav’s, arresting action potentials in nerves and muscle. Some Thamnophis populations have evolved resistance to extremely high levels of TTX. Previous work has identified amino acid sites in the skeletal muscle sodium channel Nav1.4 that confer resistance to TTX and vary across populations. We identify parallel evolution of TTX resistance in two additional Nav paralogs, Nav1.6 and 1.7, which are known to be expressed in the peripheral nervous system and should thus be exposed to ingested TTX. Each paralog contains at least one TTX-resistant substitution identical to a substitution previously identified in Nav1.4. These sites are fixed across populations, suggesting that the resistant peripheral nerves antedate resistant muscle. In contrast, three sodium channels expressed solely in the central nervous system (Nav1.1–1.3) showed no evidence of TTX resistance, consistent with protection from toxins by the blood–brain barrier. We also report the exon–intron structure of six Nav paralogs, the first such analysis for snake genes. Our results demonstrate that the molecular basis of adaptation may be both repeatable across members of a gene family and predictable based on functional considerations.
doi:10.1093/molbev/msu237
PMCID: PMC4209135  PMID: 25135948
adaptation; coevolution; gene families; molecular evolution; predator–prey interactions; toxins
6.  Regulation of membrane excitability: a convergence on voltage-gated sodium conductance 
Molecular Neurobiology  2014;51:57-67.
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.
doi:10.1007/s12035-014-8674-0
PMCID: PMC4309913  PMID: 24677068
Excitability; Drosophila; Epilepsy; Paralytic; Splicing; Translational repression
7.  Isoflurane Inhibits the Tetrodotoxin-resistant Voltagegated Sodium Channel Nav1.8 
Anesthesiology  2009;111(3):591-599.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1097/ALN.0b013e3181af64d4
PMCID: PMC2756082  PMID: 19672182
8.  Sodium channel selectivity and conduction: Prokaryotes have devised their own molecular strategy 
The Journal of General Physiology  2014;143(2):157-171.
The molecular strategy for alkali cation selectivity by a bacterial sodium channel resembles those of eukaryotic calcium and potassium channels, rather than those of eukaryotic sodium channels.
Striking structural differences between voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels from prokaryotes (homotetramers) and eukaryotes (asymmetric, four-domain proteins) suggest the likelihood of different molecular mechanisms for common functions. For these two channel families, our data show similar selectivity sequences among alkali cations (relative permeability, Pion/PNa) and asymmetric, bi-ionic reversal potentials when the Na/K gradient is reversed. We performed coordinated experimental and computational studies, respectively, on the prokaryotic Nav channels NaChBac and NavAb. NaChBac shows an “anomalous,” nonmonotonic mole-fraction dependence in the presence of certain sodium–potassium mixtures; to our knowledge, no comparable observation has been reported for eukaryotic Nav channels. NaChBac’s preferential selectivity for sodium is reduced either by partial titration of its highly charged selectivity filter, when extracellular pH is lowered from 7.4 to 5.8, or by perturbation—likely steric—associated with a nominally electro-neutral substitution in the selectivity filter (E191D). Although no single molecular feature or energetic parameter appears to dominate, our atomistic simulations, based on the published NavAb crystal structure, revealed factors that may contribute to the normally observed selectivity for Na over K. These include: (a) a thermodynamic penalty to exchange one K+ for one Na+ in the wild-type (WT) channel, increasing the relative likelihood of Na+ occupying the binding site; (b) a small tendency toward weaker ion binding to the selectivity filter in Na–K mixtures, consistent with the higher conductance observed with both sodium and potassium present; and (c) integrated 1-D potentials of mean force for sodium or potassium movement that show less separation for the less selective E/D mutant than for WT. Overall, tight binding of a single favored ion to the selectivity filter, together with crucial inter-ion interactions within the pore, suggests that prokaryotic Nav channels use a selective strategy more akin to those of eukaryotic calcium and potassium channels than that of eukaryotic Nav channels.
doi:10.1085/jgp.201311037
PMCID: PMC4001777  PMID: 24420772
9.  State- and Use-Dependent Block of Muscle Nav1.4 and Neuronal Nav1.7 Voltage-Gated Na+ Channel Isoforms by Ranolazine 
Molecular pharmacology  2007;73(3):940-948.
Ranolazine is an antianginal agent that targets a number of ion channels in the heart, including cardiac voltage-gated Na+ channels. However, ranolazine block of muscle and neuronal Na+ channel isoforms has not been examined. We compared the state- and use-dependent ranolazine block of Na+ currents carried by muscle Nav1.4, cardiac Nav1.5, and neuronal Nav1.7 isoforms expressed in human embryonic kidney 293T cells. Resting and inactivated block of Na+ channels by ranolazine were generally weak, with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) ≥ 60 μM. Use-dependent block of Na+ channel isoforms by ranolazine during repetitive pulses (+50 mV/10 ms at 5 Hz) was strong at 100 μM, up to 77% peak current reduction for Nav1.4, 67% for Nav1.5, and 83% for Nav1.7. In addition, we found conspicuous time-dependent block of inactivation-deficient Nav1.4, Nav1.5, and Nav1.7 Na+ currents by ranolazine with estimated IC50 values of 2.4, 6.2, and 1.7 μM, respectively. On- and off-rates of ranolazine were 8.2 μM−1 s−1 and 22 s−1, respectively, for Nav1.4 open channels and 7.1 μM−1 s−1 and 14 s−1, respectively, for Nav1.7 counterparts. A F1579K mutation at the local anesthetic receptor of inactivation-deficient Nav1.4 Na+ channels reduced the potency of ranolazine ~17-fold. We conclude that: 1) both muscle and neuronal Na+ channels are as sensitive to ranolazine block as their cardiac counterparts; 2) at its therapeutic plasma concentrations, ranolazine interacts predominantly with the open but not resting or inactivated Na+ channels; and 3) ranolazine block of open Na+ channels is via the conserved local anesthetic receptor albeit with a relatively slow on-rate.
doi:10.1124/mol.107.041541
PMCID: PMC2275669  PMID: 18079277
10.  Sensitivity of cloned muscle, heart and neuronal voltage-gated sodium channels to block by polyamines 
Channels  2012;6(1):41-49.
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.
doi:10.4161/chan.19001
PMCID: PMC3367677  PMID: 22522923
inward rectification; lidocaine; local anesthetics; Polyamines; sodium channels; spermidine; spermine; use-dependence; voltage-gated Na+ channels
11.  Effects of ranolazine on wild-type and mutant hNav1.7 channels and on DRG neuron excitability 
Molecular Pain  2010;6:35.
Background
A direct role of sodium channels in pain has recently been confirmed by establishing a monogenic link between SCN9A, the gene which encodes sodium channel Nav1.7, and pain disorders in humans, with gain-of-function mutations causing severe pain syndromes, and loss-of-function mutations causing congenital indifference to pain. Expression of sodium channel Nav1.8 in DRG neurons has also been shown to be essential for the manifestation of mutant Nav1.7-induced neuronal hyperexcitability. These findings have confirmed key roles of Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 in pain and identify these channels as novel targets for pain therapeutic development. Ranolazine preferentially blocks cardiac late sodium currents at concentrations that do not significantly reduce peak sodium current. Ranolazine also blocks wild-type Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 channels in a use-dependent manner. However, ranolazine's effects on gain-of-function mutations of Nav1.7 and on DRG neuron excitability have not been investigated. We used voltage- and current-clamp recordings to evaluate the hypothesis that ranolazine may be effective in regulating Nav1.7-induced DRG neuron hyperexcitability.
Results
We show that ranolazine produces comparable block of peak and ramp currents of wild-type Nav1.7 and mutant Nav1.7 channels linked to Inherited Erythromelalgia and Paroxysmal Extreme Pain Disorder. We also show that ranolazine, at a clinically-relevant concentration, blocks high-frequency firing of DRG neurons expressing wild-type but not mutant channels.
Conclusions
Our data suggest that ranalozine can attenuate hyperexcitability of DRG neurons over-expressing wild-type Nav1.7 channels, as occurs in acquired neuropathic and inflammatory pain, and thus merits further study as an alternative to existing non-selective sodium channel blockers.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-6-35
PMCID: PMC2898769  PMID: 20529343
12.  Varicella-Zoster Viruses Associated with Post-Herpetic Neuralgia Induce Sodium Current Density Increases in the ND7-23 Nav-1.8 Neuroblastoma Cell Line 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e51570.
Post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) is the most significant complication of herpes zoster caused by reactivation of latent Varicella-Zoster virus (VZV). We undertook a heterologous infection in vitro study to determine whether PHN-associated VZV isolates induce changes in sodium ion channel currents known to be associated with neuropathic pain. Twenty VZV isolates were studied blind from 11 PHN and 9 non-PHN subjects. Viruses were propagated in the MeWo cell line from which cell-free virus was harvested and applied to the ND7/23-Nav1.8 rat DRG x mouse neuroblastoma hybrid cell line which showed constitutive expression of the exogenous Nav 1.8, and endogenous expression of Nav 1.6 and Nav 1.7 genes all encoding sodium ion channels the dysregulation of which is associated with a range of neuropathic pain syndromes. After 72 hrs all three classes of VZV gene transcripts were detected in the absence of infectious virus. Single cell sodium ion channel recording was performed after 72 hr by voltage-clamping. PHN-associated VZV significantly increased sodium current amplitude in the cell line when compared with non-PHN VZV, wild-type (Dumas) or vaccine VZV strains ((POka, Merck and GSK). These sodium current increases were unaffected by acyclovir pre-treatment but were abolished by exposure to Tetrodotoxin (TTX) which blocks the TTX-sensitive fast Nav 1.6 and Nav 1.7 channels but not the TTX-resistant slow Nav 1.8 channel. PHN-associated VZV sodium current increases were therefore mediated in part by the Nav 1.6 and Nav 1.7 sodium ion channels. An additional observation was a modest increase in message levels of both Nav1.6 and Nav1.7 mRNA but not Nav 1.8 in PHN virally infected cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051570
PMCID: PMC3561399  PMID: 23382806
13.  CaMKII-Based Regulation of Voltage-Gated Na+ Channel in Cardiac Disease 
Circulation  2012;126(17):10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.105320.
Background
Human gene variants affecting ion channel biophysical activity and/or membrane localization are linked with potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias. However, the mechanism for many human arrhythmia variants remains undefined despite over a decade of investigation. Post-translational modulation of membrane proteins is essential for normal cardiac function. Importantly, aberrant myocyte signaling has been linked to defects in cardiac ion channel post-translational modifications and disease. We recently identified a novel pathway for post-translational regulation of the primary cardiac voltage-gated Na+ channel (Nav1.5) by CaMKII. However, a role for this pathway in cardiac disease has not been evaluated.
Methods and Results
We evaluated the role of CaMKII-dependent phosphorylation in human genetic and acquired disease. We report an unexpected link between a short motif in the Nav1.5 DI-DII loop, recently shown to be critical for CaMKII-dependent phosphorylation, and Nav1.5 function in monogenic arrhythmia and common heart disease. Experiments in heterologous cells and primary ventricular cardiomyocytes demonstrate that human arrhythmia susceptibility variants (A572D and Q573E) alter CaMKII-dependent regulation of Nav1.5 resulting in abnormal channel activity and cell excitability. In silico analysis reveals that these variants functionally mimic the phosphorylated channel resulting in increased susceptibility to arrhythmia-triggering afterdepolarizations. Finally, we report that this same motif is aberrantly regulated in a large animal model of acquired heart disease and in failing human myocardium.
Conclusions
We identify the mechanism for two human arrhythmia variants that affect Nav1.5 channel activity through direct effects on channel post-translational modification. We propose that the CaMKII phosphorylation motif in the Nav1.5 DI-DII cytoplasmic loop is a critical nodal point for pro-arrhythmic changes to Nav1.5 in congenital and acquired cardiac disease.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.105320
PMCID: PMC3811023  PMID: 23008441
arrhythmia (mechanisms); calmodulin dependent protein kinase II; heart failure; ion channels; long-QT syndrome; myocardial infarction
14.  Transcriptional Expression of Voltage-gated Na+ and Voltage-independent K+ Channels in the Developing Rat Superficial Dorsal Horn 
Neuroscience  2012;231:305-314.
Neurons within the superficial dorsal horn (SDH) of the rodent spinal cord exhibit distinct firing properties during early life. While this may reflect a unique combination of voltage-gated Na+ (Nav) and voltage-independent (i.e. “leak”) K+ channels which strongly influence neuronal excitability across the CNS, surprisingly little is known about which genes encoding for Nav and leak K+ channels are expressed within developing spinal pain circuits. The goal of the present study was therefore to characterize the transcriptional expression of these channels within the rat SDH at postnatal days (P)3, 10, 21 or adulthood using quantitative PCR (qPCR). The results demonstrate that Nav isoforms are developmentally regulated at the mRNA level in a subtype-specific manner, as Nav1.2 and Nav1.3 decreased significantly from P3 to adulthood, while Nav1.1 was up-regulated during this period. The data also indicate selective, age-dependent changes in the mRNA expression of two-pore domain (K2P) K+ channels, as TASK-1 (KCNK3) and TASK-3 (KCNK9) were down-regulated during postnatal development in the absence of any changes in the TWIK isoforms examined (KCNK1 and KCNK6). In addition, a developmental shift occurred within the TREK subfamily due to decreased TREK-2 (KCNK10) mRNA within the mature SDH. Meanwhile, G-protein-coupled inward rectifying K+ channels (Kir3.1 and Kir3.2) were expressed in the SDH at mature levels from birth. Overall, the results suggest that the transcription of ion channel genes occurs in a highly age-dependent manner within the SDH, raising the possibility that manipulating the expression or function of ion channels which are preferentially expressed within immature nociceptive networks could yield novel approaches to relieving pain in infants and children.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.11.053
PMCID: PMC3563431  PMID: 23219908
spinal cord; two-pore-domain K+ channels; quantitative PCR; neonatal; development; sodium channel
15.  NaV1.6a is required for normal activation of motor circuits normally excited by tactile stimulation 
Developmental neurobiology  2010;70(7):508-522.
A screen for zebrafish motor mutants identified two non-complementing alleles of a recessive mutation that were named non-active (navmi89 and navmi130). nav embryos displayed diminished spontaneous and touch-evoked escape behaviors during the first three days of development. Genetic mapping identified the gene encoding NaV1.6a (scn8aa) as a potential candidate for nav. Subsequent cloning of scn8aa from the two alleles of nav uncovered two missense mutations in NaV1.6a that eliminated channel activity when assayed heterologously. Furthermore the injection of RNA encoding wild type scn8aa rescued the nav mutant phenotype indicating that scn8aa was the causative gene of nav.
In vivo electrophysiological analysis of the touch-evoked escape circuit indicated that voltage-dependent inward current was decreased in mechanosensory neurons in mutants, but they were able to fire action potentials. Furthermore tactile stimulation of mutants activated some neurons downstream of mechanosensory neurons but failed to activate the swim locomotor circuit in accord with the behavioral response of initial escape contractions but no swimming. Thus mutant mechanosensory neurons appeared to respond to tactile stimulation but failed to initiate swimming. Interestingly fictive swimming could be initiated pharmacologically suggesting that a swim circuit was present in mutants. These results suggested that NaV1.6a was required for touch-induced activation of the swim locomotor network.
doi:10.1002/dneu.20791
PMCID: PMC2900195  PMID: 20225246
zebrafish; NaV1.6; scn8a; motor behaviors
16.  The Evolution of Pepsinogen C Genes in Vertebrates: Duplication, Loss and Functional Diversification 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32852.
Background
Aspartic proteases comprise a large group of enzymes involved in peptide proteolysis. This collection includes prominent enzymes globally categorized as pepsins, which are derived from pepsinogen precursors. Pepsins are involved in gastric digestion, a hallmark of vertebrate physiology. An important member among the pepsinogens is pepsinogen C (Pgc). A particular aspect of Pgc is its apparent single copy status, which contrasts with the numerous gene copies found for example in pepsinogen A (Pga). Although gene sequences with similarity to Pgc have been described in some vertebrate groups, no exhaustive evolutionary framework has been considered so far.
Methodology/Principal Findings
By combining phylogenetics and genomic analysis, we find an unexpected Pgc diversity in the vertebrate sub-phylum. We were able to reconstruct gene duplication timings relative to the divergence of major vertebrate clades. Before tetrapod divergence, a single Pgc gene tandemly expanded to produce two gene lineages (Pgbc and Pgc2). These have been differentially retained in various classes. Accordingly, we find Pgc2 in sauropsids, amphibians and marsupials, but not in eutherian mammals. Pgbc was retained in amphibians, but duplicated in the ancestor of amniotes giving rise to Pgb and Pgc1. The latter was retained in mammals and probably in reptiles and marsupials but not in birds. Pgb was kept in all of the amniote clade with independent episodes of loss in some mammalian species. Lineage specific expansions of Pgc2 and Pgbc have also occurred in marsupials and amphibians respectively. We find that teleost and tetrapod Pgc genes reside in distinct genomic regions hinting at a possible translocation.
Conclusions
We conclude that the repertoire of Pgc genes is larger than previously reported, and that tandem duplications have modelled the history of Pgc genes. We hypothesize that gene expansion lead to functional divergence in tetrapods, coincident with the invasion of terrestrial habitats.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032852
PMCID: PMC3298455  PMID: 22427897
17.  The epithelial sodium channel in the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri (Osteichthyes: Dipnoi) 
Epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) is a Na+-selective, aldosterone-stimulated ion channel involved in sodium transport homeostasis. ENaC is rate-limiting for Na+ absorption in the epithelia of osmoregulatory organs of tetrapods. Although the ENaC/degenerin gene family is proposed to be present in metazoans, no orthologues or paralogues for ENaC have been found in the genome databases of teleosts. We studied full-length cDNA cloning and tissue distributions of ENaCα, β and γ subunits in the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri, which is the closest living relative of tetrapods. Neoceratodus ENaC (nENaC) comprised three subunits: nENaCα, β and γ proteins. The nENaCα, β and γ subunits are closely related to amphibian ENaCα, β and γ subunits, respectively. Three ENaC subunit mRNAs were highly expressed in the gills, kidney and rectum. Amiloride-sensitive sodium current was recorded from Xenopus oocytes injected with the nENaCαβγ subunit complementary RNAs under a two-electrode voltage clamp. nENaCα immunoreactivity was observed in the apical cell membrane of the gills, kidney and rectum. Thus, nENaC may play a role in regulating sodium transport of the lungfish, which has a renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system. This is interesting because there may have been an ENaC sodium absorption system controlled by aldosterone before the conquest of land by vertebrates.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.1945
PMCID: PMC3497098  PMID: 23055064
evolution of ion channel; sodium transport; Xenopus oocyte; immunoreactivity; Dipnoi
18.  SCN1A Splice Variants Exhibit Divergent Sensitivity to Commonly Used Antiepileptic Drugs 
Epilepsia  2011;52(5):1000-1009.
Purpose
A common genetic variant (rs3812718) in a splice donor consensus sequence within the neuronal sodium channel gene SCN1A (encoding NaV1.1) modulates the proportion of transcripts incorporating either the canonical (5A) or alternative (5N) exon 5. A pharmacogenetic association has been reported whereby increased expression of exon 5N containing NaV1.1 transcripts correlated with lower required doses of phenytoin in epileptics. We tested the hypothesis that SCN1A alternative splicing affects the pharmacology of NaV1.1 channels.
Methods
To directly examine biophysical and pharmacological differences between the exon 5 splice variants, we performed whole-cell patch clamp recording of tsA201 cells transiently co-expressing either NaV1.1-5A or NaV1.1-5N with the β1 and β2 accessory subunits. We examined tonic inhibition and use-dependent inhibition of NaV1.1 splice isoforms by phenytoin, carbamazepine, and lamotrigine. We also examined the effects of phenytoin and lamotrigine on channel biophysical properties and determined concentration-response relationships for both splice variants.
Key Findings
We observed no significant differences in voltage-dependence of activation, steady-state inactivation, and recovery from inactivation between splice variants. However, NaV1.1-5N channels exhibited enhanced tonic block by phenytoin and lamotrigine compared to NaV1.1-5A. Additionally, NaV1.1-5N exhibited enhanced use-dependent block by phenytoin and lamotrigine across a range of stimulation frequencies and concentrations. Phenytoin and lamotrigine induced shifts in steady-state inactivation and recovery from fast inactivation for both splice isoforms. No splice isoform differences were observed for channel inhibition by carbamazepine.
Significance
These results suggest NaV1.1 channels containing exon 5N are more sensitive to the commonly used antiepileptic drugs phenytoin and lamotrigine.
doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03040.x
PMCID: PMC3093448  PMID: 21453355
antiepileptic drugs; ion channel gene defects; alternative splicing
19.  Ranolazine Decreases Mechanosensitivity of the Voltage-Gated Sodium Ion Channel NaV1.5: A Novel Mechanism of Drug Action 
Circulation  2012;125(22):2698-2706.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.094714
PMCID: PMC3392778  PMID: 22565935
drugs; electrophysiology; ion channels; mechanics; myocytes
20.  Heteromeric Kv7.2/7.3 Channels Differentially Regulate Action Potential Initiation and Conduction in Neocortical Myelinated Axons 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(10):3719-3732.
Rapid energy-efficient signaling along vertebrate axons is achieved through intricate subcellular arrangements of voltage-gated ion channels and myelination. One recently appreciated example is the tight colocalization of Kv7 potassium channels and voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels in the axonal initial segment and nodes of Ranvier. The local biophysical properties of these Kv7 channels and the functional impact of colocalization with Nav channels remain poorly understood. Here, we quantitatively examined Kv7 channels in myelinated axons of rat neocortical pyramidal neurons using high-resolution confocal imaging and patch-clamp recording. Kv7.2 and 7.3 immunoreactivity steeply increased within the distal two-thirds of the axon initial segment and was mirrored by the conductance density estimates, which increased from ∼12 (proximal) to 150 pS μm−2 (distal). The axonal initial segment and nodal M-currents were similar in voltage dependence and kinetics, carried by Kv7.2/7.3 heterotetramers, 4% activated at the resting membrane potential and rapidly activated with single-exponential time constants (∼15 ms at 28 mV). Experiments and computational modeling showed that while somatodendritic Kv7 channels are strongly activated by the backpropagating action potential to attenuate the afterdepolarization and repetitive firing, axonal Kv7 channels are minimally recruited by the forward-propagating action potential. Instead, in nodal domains Kv7.2/7.3 channels were found to increase Nav channel availability and action potential amplitude by stabilizing the resting membrane potential. Thus, Kv7 clustering near axonal Nav channels serves specific and context-dependent roles, both restraining initiation and enhancing conduction of the action potential.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4206-13.2014
PMCID: PMC3942587  PMID: 24599470
axon; excitability; Kv7
21.  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.
doi:10.1016/j.neuro.2005.10.004
PMCID: PMC3057067  PMID: 16325912
Insect sodium channel; Insecticide; Indoxacarb; DCJW; Xenopus oocyte
22.  An alanine in segment 3 of domain III (IIIS3) of the cockroach sodium channel contributes to the low pyrethroid sensitivity of an alternative splice variant 
In a previous study, we showed that two alternative exons (G1 and G2 encoding IIIS3-S4) were involved in the differential sensitivity of two cockroach sodium channel splice variants, BgNav1-1 and BgNav2-1 (previously called KD1 and KD2), to deltamethrin, a pyrethroid insecticide (Tan, et al., 2002b. Alternative splicing of an insect sodium channel gene generates pharmacologically distinct sodium channels. J. Neurosci. 22, 5300–5309.). Here, we report the identification of an amino acid residue in exon G2 that contributes to the low deltamethrin sensitivity of BgNav2-1. Replacement of A1356 in BgNav2-1 with the corresponding V1356 in BgNav1-1 enhanced the sensitivity of the BgNav2-1 channel to deltamethrin by six-fold. Conversely, substitution of V1356 with A1356 in BgNav1-1 produced a recombinant BgNav1-1 channel that was 5-fold more resistant to deltamethrin. These results demonstrate that A1356 contributes to the low sensitivity of BgNav2-1 to deltamethrin. A1356V substitution also shifted the voltage-dependence of activation by 10 mV in the hyperpolarizing direction. Possible mechanisms by which this amino acid change affects the action of pyrethroids on the sodium channel are discussed.
doi:10.1016/j.ibmb.2005.11.008
PMCID: PMC3057056  PMID: 16431283
Sodium channel; Pyrethroids; Alternative splicing
23.  Sodium channels and mammalian sensory mechanotransduction 
Molecular Pain  2012;8:21.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-8-21
PMCID: PMC3378430  PMID: 22449024
Mechanotransduction; Sodium channels; Pain; Nav1.7; Nav1.8; ENaCs
24.  Intron Retention in mRNA Encoding Ancillary Subunit of Insect Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel Modulates Channel Expression, Gating Regulation and Drug Sensitivity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e67290.
Insect voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels are formed by a well-known pore-forming α-subunit encoded by para-like gene and ancillary subunits related to TipE from the mutation “temperature-induced-paralysis locus E.” The role of these ancillary subunits in the modulation of biophysical and pharmacological properties of Na+ currents are not enough documented. The unique neuronal ancillary subunit TipE-homologous protein 1 of Drosophila melanogaster (DmTEH1) strongly enhances the expression of insect Nav channels when heterologously expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Here we report the cloning and functional expression of two neuronal DmTEH1-homologs of the cockroach, Periplaneta americana, PaTEH1A and PaTEH1B, encoded by a single bicistronic gene. In PaTEH1B, the second exon encoding the last 11-amino-acid residues of PaTEH1A is shifted to 3′UTR by the retention of a 96-bp intron-containing coding-message, thus generating a new C-terminal end. We investigated the gating and pharmacological properties of the Drosophila Nav channel variant (DmNav1-1) co-expressed with DmTEH1, PaTEH1A, PaTEH1B or a truncated mutant PaTEH1Δ(270-280) in Xenopus oocytes. PaTEH1B caused a 2.2-fold current density decrease, concomitant with an equivalent α-subunit incorporation decrease in the plasma membrane, compared to PaTEH1A and PaTEH1Δ(270-280). PaTEH1B positively shifted the voltage-dependences of activation and slow inactivation of DmNav1-1 channels to more positive potentials compared to PaTEH1A, suggesting that the C-terminal end of both proteins may influence the function of the voltage-sensor and the pore of Nav channel. Interestingly, our findings showed that the sensitivity of DmNav1-1 channels to lidocaine and to the pyrazoline-type insecticide metabolite DCJW depends on associated TEH1-like subunits. In conclusion, our work demonstrates for the first time that density, gating and pharmacological properties of Nav channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes can be modulated by an intron retention process in the transcription of the neuronal TEH1-like ancillary subunits of P. americana.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067290
PMCID: PMC3744522  PMID: 23967047
25.  Lineage-Specific Patterns of Functional Diversification in the α- and β-Globin Gene Families of Tetrapod Vertebrates 
Molecular Biology and Evolution  2010;27(5):1126-1138.
The α- and β-globin gene families of jawed vertebrates have diversified with respect to both gene function and the developmental timing of gene expression. Phylogenetic reconstructions of globin gene family evolution have provided suggestive evidence that the developmental regulation of hemoglobin synthesis has evolved independently in multiple vertebrate lineages. For example, the embryonic β-like globin genes of birds and placental mammals are not 1:1 orthologs. Despite the similarity in developmental expression profiles, the genes are independently derived from lineage-specific duplications of a β-globin pro-ortholog. This suggests the possibility that other vertebrate taxa may also possess distinct repertoires of globin genes that were produced by repeated rounds of lineage-specific gene duplication and divergence. Until recently, investigations into this possibility have been hindered by the dearth of genomic sequence data from nonmammalian vertebrates. Here, we report new insights into globin gene family evolution that were provided by a phylogenetic analysis of vertebrate globins combined with a comparative genomic analysis of three key sauropsid taxa: a squamate reptile (anole lizard, Anolis carolinensis), a passeriform bird (zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata), and a galliform bird (chicken, Gallus gallus). The main objectives of this study were 1) to characterize evolutionary changes in the size and membership composition of the α- and β-globin gene families of tetrapod vertebrates and 2) to test whether functional diversification of the globin gene clusters occurred independently in different tetrapod lineages. Results of our comparative genomic analysis revealed several intriguing patterns of gene turnover in the globin gene clusters of different taxa. Lineage-specific differences in gene content were especially pronounced in the β-globin gene family, as phylogenetic reconstructions revealed that amphibians, lepidosaurs (as represented by anole lizard), archosaurs (as represented by zebra finch and chicken), and mammals each possess a distinct independently derived repertoire of β-like globin genes. In contrast to the ancient functional diversification of the α-globin gene cluster in the stem lineage of tetrapods, the physiological division of labor between early- and late-expressed genes in the β-globin gene cluster appears to have evolved independently in several tetrapod lineages.
doi:10.1093/molbev/msp325
PMCID: PMC2877528  PMID: 20047955
Anolis; gene duplication; gene family evolution; genome evolution; hemoglobin; zebra finch

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