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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Voltage-gated sodium channels are important sites for the neurotoxic actions of pyrethroid insecticides in mammals. The pore-forming α subunits of mammalian sodium channels are encoded by a family of 9 genes, designated Nav1.1 - Nav1.9. Native sodium channels in the adult central nervous system (CNS) are heterotrimeric complexes of one of these 9 α subunits and two auxiliary (β) subunits. Here we compare the functional properties and pyrethroid sensitivity of the rat and human Nav1.3 isoforms, which are abundantly expressed in the developing CNS. Coexpression of the rat Nav1.3 and human Nav1.3 α subunits in combination with their conspecific β1 and β2 subunits in Xenopus laevis oocytes gave channels with markedly different inactivation properties and sensitivities to the pyrethroid insecticide tefluthrin. Rat Nav1.3 channels inactivated more slowly than human Nav1.3 channels during a depolarizing pulse. The rat and human channels also differed in their voltage dependence of steady-state inactivation. Exposure of rat and human Nav1.3 channels to 100 μM tefluthrin in the resting state produced populations of channels that activated, inactivated and deactivated more slowly than unmodified channels. For both rat and human channels, application of trains of depolarizing prepulses enhanced the extent of tefluthrin modification approximately twofold; this result implies that tefluthrin may bind to both the resting and open states of the channel. Modification of rat Nav1.3 channels by 100 μM tefluthrin was four-fold greater than that measured in parallel assays with human Nav1.3 channels. Human Nav1.3 channels were also less sensitive to tefluthrin than rat Nav1.2 channels, which are considered to be relatively insensitive to pyrethroids. These data provide the first direct comparison of the functional and pharmacological properties of orthologous rat and human sodium channels and demonstrate that orthologous channels with a high degree of amino acid sequence conservation differ in both their functional properties and their sensitivities to pyrethroid insecticides.
Nav1.3; oocyte; sodium channel; pyrethroid; tefluthrin; rat; human
Mammalian species express nine functional voltage-gated Na+ channels. Three of them, the cardiac-specific isoform Nav1.5 and the neuronal isoforms Nav1.8 and Nav1.9, are relatively resistant to the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTX; IC50 ≥ 1 μM). The other six isoforms are highly sensitive to TTX with IC50 values in the nanomolar range. These isoforms are expressed in the central nervous system (Nav1.1, Nav1.2, Nav1.3, Nav1.6), in the skeletal muscle (Nav1.4), and in the peripheral nervous system (Nav1.6, Nav1.7). The isoform Nav1.5, encoded by the SCN5A gene, is responsible for the upstroke of the action potential in the heart. Mutations in SCN5A are associated with a variety of life-threatening arrhythmias, like long QT syndrome type 3 (LQT3), Brugada syndrome (BrS) or cardiac conduction disease (CCD). Previous immunohistochemical and electrophysiological assays demonstrated the cardiac expression of neuronal and skeletal muscle Na+ channels in the heart of various mammals, which led to far-reaching speculations on their function. However, when comparing the Na+ channel mRNA patterns in the heart of various mammalian species, only minute quantities of transcripts for TTX-sensitive Na+ channels were detectable in whole pig and human hearts, suggesting that these channels are not involved in cardiac excitation phenomena in higher mammals. This conclusion is strongly supported by the fact that mutations in TTX-sensitive Na+ channels were associated with epilepsy or skeletal muscle diseases, rather than with a pathological cardiac phenotype. Moreover, previous data from TTX-intoxicated animals and from cases of human tetrodotoxication showed that low TTX dosages caused at most little alterations of both the cardiac output and the electrocardiogram. Recently, genome-wide association studies identified SCN10A, the gene encoding Nav1.8, as a determinant of cardiac conduction parameters, and mutations in SCN10A have been associated with BrS. These novel findings opened a fascinating new research area in the cardiac ion channel field, and the on-going debate on how SCN10A/Nav1.8 affects cardiac conduction is very exciting.
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.
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.
ion selectivity; bacteria physiology; pharmacology; biochemical adaptations; evolution; antibiotics; None
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.
adaptation; coevolution; gene families; molecular evolution; predator–prey interactions; toxins
Voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav1.1–Nav1.9) are responsible for the initiation and propagation of action potentials in neurons, controlling firing patterns, synaptic transmission and plasticity of the brain circuit. Yet, it is the protein–protein interactions of the macromolecular complex that exert diverse modulatory actions on the channel, dictating its ultimate functional outcome. Despite the fundamental role of Nav channels in the brain, information on its proteome is still lacking. Here we used affinity purification from crude membrane extracts of whole brain followed by quantitative high-resolution mass spectrometry to resolve the identity of Nav1.2 protein interactors. Of the identified putative protein interactors, fibroblast growth factor 12 (FGF12), a member of the nonsecreted intracellular FGF family, exhibited 30-fold enrichment in Nav1.2 purifications compared with other identified proteins. Using confocal microscopy, we visualized native FGF12 in the brain tissue and confirmed that FGF12 forms a complex with Nav1.2 channels at the axonal initial segment, the subcellular specialized domain of neurons required for action potential initiation. Co-immunoprecipitation studies in a heterologous expression system validate Nav1.2 and FGF12 as interactors, whereas patch-clamp electrophysiology reveals that FGF12 acts synergistically with CaMKII, a known kinase regulator of Nav channels, to modulate Nav1.2-encoded currents. In the presence of CaMKII inhibitors we found that FGF12 produces a bidirectional shift in the voltage-dependence of activation (more depolarized) and the steady-state inactivation (more hyperpolarized) of Nav1.2, increasing the channel availability. Although providing the first characterization of the Nav1.2 CNS proteome, we identify FGF12 as a new functionally relevant interactor. Our studies will provide invaluable information to parse out the molecular determinant underlying neuronal excitability and plasticity, and extending the relevance of iFGFs signaling in the normal and diseased brain.
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
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.
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.
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.
Spermidine and spermine, are endogenous polyamines (PAs) that regulate cell growth and modulate the activity of numerous ion channel proteins. In particular, intracellular PAs are potent blockers of many different cation channels and are responsible for strong suppression of outward K+ current, a phenomenon known as inward rectification characteristic of a major class of KIR K+ channels. We previously described block of heterologously expressed voltage-gated Na+ channels (NaV) of rat muscle by intracellular PAs and PAs have recently been found to modulate excitability of brain neocortical neurons by blocking neuronal NaV channels. In this study, we compared the sensitivity of four different cloned mammalian NaV isoforms to PAs to investigate whether PA block is a common feature of NaV channel pharmacology. We find that outward Na+ current of muscle (NaV1.4), heart (NaV1.5), and neuronal (NaV1.2, NaV1.7) NaV isoforms is blocked by PAs, suggesting that PA metabolism may be linked to modulation of action potential firing in numerous excitable tissues. Interestingly, the cardiac NaV1.5 channel is more sensitive to PA block than other isoforms. Our results also indicate that rapid binding of PAs to blocking sites in the NaV1.4 channel is restricted to access from the cytoplasmic side of the channel, but plasma membrane transport pathways for PA uptake may contribute to long-term NaV channel modulation. PAs may also play a role in drug interactions since spermine attenuates the use-dependent effect of the lidocaine, a typical local anesthetic and anti-arrhythmic drug.
inward rectification; lidocaine; local anesthetics; Polyamines; sodium channels; spermidine; spermine; use-dependence; voltage-gated Na+ channels
Voltage-gated sodium channels are responsible for the initiation and propagation of action potentials (APs). Two brain isoforms, Nav1.1 and Nav1.6, have very distinct cellular and subcellular expression. Specifically, Nav1.1 is predominantly expressed in the soma and proximal axon initial segment of fast-spiking GABAergic neurons, while Nav1.6 is found at the distal axon initial segment and nodes of Ranvier of both fast-spiking GABAergic and excitatory neurons. Interestingly, an auxiliary voltage-gated sodium channel subunit, Navβ4, is also enriched in the axon initial segment of fast-spiking GABAergic neurons. The C-terminal tail of Navβ4 is thought to mediate resurgent sodium current, an atypical current that occurs immediately following the action potential and is predicted to enhance excitability. To better understand the contribution of Nav1.1, Nav1.6 and Navβ4 to high frequency firing, we compared the properties of these two channel isoforms in the presence and absence of a peptide corresponding to part of the C-terminal tail of Navβ4. We used whole-cell patch clamp recordings to examine the biophysical properties of these two channel isoforms in HEK293T cells and found several differences between human Nav1.1 and Nav1.6 currents. Nav1.1 channels exhibited slower closed-state inactivation but faster open-state inactivation than Nav1.6 channels. We also observed a greater propensity of Nav1.6 to generate resurgent currents, most likely due to its slower kinetics of open-state inactivation, compared to Nav1.1. These two isoforms also showed differential responses to slow and fast AP waveforms, which were altered by the Navβ4 peptide. Although the Navβ4 peptide substantially increased the rate of recovery from apparent inactivation, Navβ4 peptide did not protect either channel isoform from undergoing use-dependent reduction with 10 Hz step-pulse stimulation or trains of slow or fast AP waveforms. Overall, these two channels have distinct biophysical properties that may differentially contribute to regulating neuronal excitability.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
arrhythmia (mechanisms); calmodulin dependent protein kinase II; heart failure; ion channels; long-QT syndrome; myocardial infarction
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.
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.
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.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Mutations of SCN1A, the gene encoding the pore-forming subunit of the voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.1, have been associated with a spectrum of genetic epilepsies and a familial form of migraine. Several mutant NaV1.1 channels exhibit increased persistent current due to incomplete inactivation and this biophysical defect may contribute to altered neuronal excitability in these disorders. Here, we investigated the ability of ranolazine to preferentially inhibit increased persistent current evoked by mutant NaV1.1 channels.
Human wild-type (WT) and mutant NaV1.1 channels were expressed heterologously in human tsA201 cells and whole-cell patch clamp recording was used to assess tonic and use-dependent ranolazine block.
Ranolazine (30 µM) did not affect WT NaV1.1 channel current density, activation or steady-state fast inactivation but did produce mild slowing of recovery from inactivation. Ranolazine blocked persistent current with 16-fold selectivity over tonic block of peak current and 3.6-fold selectivity over use-dependent block of peak current. Similar selectivity was observed for ranolazine block of increased persistent current exhibited by NaV1.1 channel mutations representing three distinct clinical syndromes, generalized epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (R1648H, T875M), severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (R1648C, F1661S) and familial hemiplegic migraine type 3 (L263V, Q1489K). In vitro application of achievable brain concentrations (1, 3 µM) to cells expressing R1648H channels was sufficient to suppress channel activation during slow voltage ramps, consistent with inhibition of persistent current.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
Our findings support the feasibility of using selective suppression of increased persistent current as a potential new therapeutic strategy for familial neurological disorders associated with certain sodium channel mutations.
sodium channel; epilepsy; antiepileptic drugs; ranolazine; migraine
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.
spinal cord; two-pore-domain K+ channels; quantitative PCR; neonatal; development; sodium channel
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.
evolution of ion channel; sodium transport; Xenopus oocyte; immunoreactivity; Dipnoi
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.
zebrafish; NaV1.6; scn8a; motor behaviors
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.
Anolis; gene duplication; gene family evolution; genome evolution; hemoglobin; zebra finch
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.
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.
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.
These results suggest NaV1.1 channels containing exon 5N are more sensitive to the commonly used antiepileptic drugs phenytoin and lamotrigine.
antiepileptic drugs; ion channel gene defects; alternative splicing
Calcium-activated, large conductance potassium (BK) channels in tetrapods are encoded by a single slo1 gene, which undergoes extensive alternative splicing. Alternative splicing generates a high level of functional diversity in BK channels that contributes to the wide range of frequencies electrically tuned by the inner ear hair cells of many tetrapods. To date, the role of BK channels in hearing among teleost fishes has not been investigated at the molecular level, although teleosts account for approximately half of all extant vertebrate species. We identified slo1 genes in teleost and nonteleost fishes using polymerase chain reaction and genetic sequence databases. In contrast to tetrapods, all teleosts examined were found to express duplicate slo1 genes in the central nervous system, whereas nonteleosts that diverged prior to the teleost whole-genome duplication event express a single slo1 gene. Phylogenetic analyses further revealed that whereas other slo1 duplicates were the result of a single duplication event, an independent duplication occurred in a basal teleost (Anguilla rostrata) following the slo1 duplication in teleosts. A third, independent slo1 duplication (autotetraploidization) occurred in salmonids. Comparison of teleost slo1 genomic sequences to their tetrapod orthologue revealed a reduced number of alternative splice sites in both slo1 co-orthologues. For the teleost Porichthys notatus, a focal study species that vocalizes with maximal spectral energy in the range electrically tuned by BK channels in the inner ear, peripheral tissues show the expression of either one (e.g., vocal muscle) or both (e.g., inner ear) slo1 paralogues with important implications for both auditory and vocal physiology. Additional loss of expression of one slo1 paralogue in nonneural tissues in P. notatus suggests that slo1 duplicates were retained via subfunctionalization. Together, the results predict that teleost fish achieve a diversity of BK channel subfunction via gene duplication, rather than increased alternative splicing as witnessed for the tetrapod and invertebrate orthologue.
BK channels; hearing; gene duplications
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