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
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 membrane proteins that initiate action potentials in neurons following membrane depolarization. Members of this family show differential distribution at the subcellular level. The mechanisms underlying the targeting of these isoforms are not understood. However, their specificity is important because the isoforms can change the excitability of the membrane due to differences in their electrophysiological properties. In this study, chimeras generated between Nav1.2 and Nav1.6 were used to test channel domains for sequence that would allow Nav1.2 to localize to unmyelinated axons when Nav1.6 could not. We show that the N-terminal 202 amino acids of the Nav1.2 channel can mediate membrane domain-specific sorting in polarized epithelial cells and are necessary but not sufficient for localizing the isoform to the axons of cultured neurons. The domain-sorting signal is in the region between amino acids 110-202 of the Nav1.2 channel. The C-terminal 451 amino acids of Nav1.2 likely contain determinants that interact with neuron-specific factors to direct Nav1.2 to the axon.
Sodium channels; localization; neuron
The voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.6 plays unique roles in the nervous system, but its functional properties and neuromodulation are not as well established as for NaV1.2 channels. We found no significant differences in voltage-dependent activation or fast inactivation between NaV1.6 and NaV1.2 channels expressed in non-excitable cells. In contrast, the voltage dependence of slow inactivation was more positive for Nav1.6 channels, they conducted substantially larger persistent sodium currents than Nav1.2 channels, and they were much less sensitive to inhibtion by phosphorylation by cAMP-dependent protein kinase and protein kinase C. Resurgent sodium current, a hallmark of Nav1.6 channels in neurons, was not observed for NaV1.6 expressed alone or with the auxiliary β4 subunit. The unique properties of NaV1.6 channels, together with the resurgent currents that they conduct in neurons, make these channels well-suited to provide the driving force for sustained repetitive firing, a crucial property of neurons.
Voltage-gated Nav channels are required for normal electrical activity in neurons, skeletal muscle, and cardiomyocytes. In the heart, Nav1.5 is the predominant Nav channel, and Nav1.5-dependent activity regulates rapid upstroke of the cardiac action potential. Nav1.5 activity requires precise localization at specialized cardiomyocyte membrane domains. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying Nav channel trafficking in the heart are unknown. In this paper, we demonstrate that ankyrin-G is required for Nav1.5 targeting in the heart. Cardiomyocytes with reduced ankyrin-G display reduced Nav1.5 expression, abnormal Nav1.5 membrane targeting, and reduced Na+ channel current density. We define the structural requirements on ankyrin-G for Nav1.5 interactions and demonstrate that loss of Nav1.5 targeting is caused by the loss of direct Nav1.5–ankyrin-G interaction. These data are the first report of a cellular pathway required for Nav channel trafficking in the heart and suggest that ankyrin-G is critical for cardiac depolarization and Nav channel organization in multiple excitable tissues.
Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a highly potent neurotoxin that blocks the action potential by selectively binding to voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav). The skeletal muscle Nav (Nav1.4) channels in most pufferfish species and certain North American garter snakes are resistant to TTX, whereas in most mammals they are TTX-sensitive. It still remains unclear as to whether the difference in this sensitivity among the various vertebrate species can be associated with adaptive evolution. In this study, we investigated the adaptive evolution of the vertebrate Nav1.4 channels. By means of the CODEML program of the PAML 4.3 package, the lineages of both garter snakes and pufferfishes were denoted to be under positive selection. The positively selected sites identified in the p-loop regions indicated their involvement in Nav1.4 channel sensitivity to TTX. Most of these sites were located in the intracellular regions of the Nav1.4 channel, thereby implying the possible association of these regions with the regulation of voltage-sensor movement.
skeletal muscle voltage-gated Na (Nav1.4) channel; tetrodotoxin (TTX); positive selection; pufferfish; garter snake
Voltage-gated Na+ channels (NaV channels) are specifically blocked by guanidinium toxins such as tetrodotoxin (TTX) and saxitoxin (STX) with nanomolar to micromolar affinity depending on key amino acid substitutions in the outer vestibule of the channel that vary with NaV gene isoforms. All NaV channels that have been studied exhibit a use-dependent enhancement of TTX/STX affinity when the channel is stimulated with brief repetitive voltage depolarizations from a hyperpolarized starting voltage. Two models have been proposed to explain the mechanism of TTX/STX use dependence: a conformational mechanism and a trapped ion mechanism. In this study, we used selectivity filter mutations (K1237R, K1237A, and K1237H) of the rat muscle NaV1.4 channel that are known to alter ionic selectivity and Ca2+ permeability to test the trapped ion mechanism, which attributes use-dependent enhancement of toxin affinity to electrostatic repulsion between the bound toxin and Ca2+ or Na+ ions trapped inside the channel vestibule in the closed state. Our results indicate that TTX/STX use dependence is not relieved by mutations that enhance Ca2+ permeability, suggesting that ion–toxin repulsion is not the primary factor that determines use dependence. Evidence now favors the idea that TTX/STX use dependence arises from conformational coupling of the voltage sensor domain or domains with residues in the toxin-binding site that are also involved in slow inactivation.
The glucagon (GCG) peptide family consists of GCG, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1), and GLP2, which are derived from a common GCG precursor, and the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP). These peptides interact with cognate receptors, GCGR, GLP1R, GLP2R, and GIPR, which belong to the secretin-like G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family. We used bioinformatics to identify genes encoding a novel GCG-related peptide (GCRP) and its cognate receptor, GCRPR. The GCRP and GCRPR genes were found in representative tetrapod taxa such as anole lizard, chicken, and Xenopus, and in teleosts including medaka, fugu, tetraodon, and stickleback. However, they were not present in mammals and zebrafish. Phylogenetic and genome synteny analyses showed that GCRP emerged through two rounds of whole genome duplication (2R) during early vertebrate evolution. GCRPR appears to have arisen by local tandem gene duplications from a common ancestor of GCRPR, GCGR, and GLP2R after 2R. Biochemical ligand-receptor interaction analyses revealed that GCRP had the highest affinity for GCRPR in comparison to other GCGR family members. Stimulation of chicken, Xenopus, and medaka GCRPRs activated Gαs-mediated signaling. In contrast to chicken and Xenopus GCRPRs, medaka GCRPR also induced Gαq/11-mediated signaling. Chimeric peptides and receptors showed that the K16M17K18 and G16Q17A18 motifs in GCRP and GLP1, respectively, may at least in part contribute to specific recognition of their cognate receptors through interaction with the receptor core domain. In conclusion, we present novel data demonstrating that GCRP and GCRPR evolved through gene/genome duplications followed by specific modifications that conferred selective recognition to this ligand-receptor pair.
The voltage-gated sodium-channel type IX α subunit, known as Nav1.7 and encoded by the gene SCN9A, is located in peripheral neurons and plays an important role in action potential production in these cells. Recent genetic studies have identified Nav1.7 dysfunction in three different human pain disorders. Gain-of-function missense mutations in Nav1.7 have been shown to cause primary erythermalgia and paroxysmal extreme pain disorder, while nonsense mutations in Nav1.7 result in loss of Nav1.7 function and a condition known as channelopathy-associated insensitivity to pain, a rare disorder in which affected individuals are unable to feel physical pain. This review highlights these recent developments and discusses the critical role of Nav1.7 in pain sensation in humans.
Nav1.5 or SCN5A is a member of the voltage-dependent family of sodium channels. The distribution of Nav1.5 protein was investigated in the mouse brain using immunohistochemistry. Immunostaining with a Nav1.5-specific antibodyrevealed that Nav1.5 protein was localizedin certain distinctregions of brain including the cerebral cortex, thalamus, hypothalamus, basalganglia, cerebellum and brain stem. Notably, we found that Nav1.5 protein co-localized with neurofilaments and clustered at a high density in the neuronal processes, mainly axons.These results suggest that Nav1.5 protein may play a role in the physiology of the central nervous system (generation and propagation of electrical signals by axons).
Axon; Brain; Cardiac sodium channel; Nav1.5/SCN5A; Neuronal process; Seizure; Sudden death
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
Indoxacarb (DPX-JW062) was recently developed as a new oxadiazine insecticide with high insecticidal activity and low mammalian toxicity. Previous studies showed that indoxacarb and its bioactive metabolite, N-decarbomethoxyllated JW062 (DCJW), block insect sodium channels in nerve preparations and isolated neurons. However, the molecular mechanism of indoxacarb/DCJW action on insect sodium channels is not well understood. In this study, we identified two cockroach sodium channel variants, BgNav1-1 and BgNav1-4, which differ in voltage dependence of fast and slow inactivation, and channel sensitivity to DCJW. The voltage dependence of fast inactivation and slow inactivation of BgNav1-4 were shifted in the hyperpolarizing direction compared with those of BgNav1-1 channels. At the holding potential of −90 mV, 20 μM of DCJW reduced the peak current of BgNav1-4 by about 40%, but had no effect on BgNav1-1. However, at the holding potential of −60 mV, DCJW also reduced the peak currents of BgNav1-1 by about 50%. Furthermore, DCJW delayed the recovery from slow inactivation of both variants. Substitution of E1689 in segment 4 of domain four (IVS4) of BgNav1-4 with a K, which is present in BgNav1-1, was sufficient to shift the voltage dependence of fast and slow inactivation of BgNav1-4 channels to the more depolarizing membrane potential close to that of BgNav1-1 channels. The E1689K change also eliminated the DCJW inhibition of BgNav1-4 at the hyperpolarizing holding potentials. These results show that the E1689K change is responsible for the difference in channel gating and sensitivity to DCJW between BgNav1-4 and BgNav1-1. Our results support the notion that DCJW preferably acts on the inactivated state of the sodium channel and demonstrate that K1689E is a major molecular determinant of the voltage-dependent inactivation and state-dependent action of DCJW.
Insect sodium channel; Insecticide; Indoxacarb; DCJW; Xenopus oocyte
Gene clusters are of interest for the understanding of genome evolution since they provide insight in large-scale duplications events as well as patterns of individual gene losses. Vertebrates tend to have multiple copies of gene clusters that typically are only single clusters or are not present at all in genomes of invertebrates. We investigated the genomic architecture and conserved non-coding sequences of vertebrate KCNA gene clusters. KCNA genes encode shaker-related voltage-gated potassium channels and are arranged in two three-gene clusters in tetrapods. Teleost fish are found to possess four clusters. The two tetrapod KNCA clusters are of approximately the same age as the Hox gene clusters that arose through duplications early in vertebrate evolution. For some genes, their conserved retention and arrangement in clusters are thought to be related to regulatory elements in the intergenic regions, which might prevent rearrangements and gene loss. Interestingly, this hypothesis does not appear to apply to the KCNA clusters, as too few conserved putative regulatory elements are retained.
We obtained KCNA coding sequences from basal ray-finned fishes (sturgeon, gar, bowfin) and confirmed that the duplication of these genes is specific to teleosts and therefore consistent with the fish-specific genome duplication (FSGD). Phylogenetic analyses of the genes suggest a basal position of the only intron containing KCNA gene in vertebrates (KCNA7). Sistergroup relationships of KCNA1/2 and KCNA3/6 support that a large-scale duplication gave rise to the two clusters found in the genome of tetrapods. We analyzed the intergenic regions of KCNA clusters in vertebrates and found that there are only a few conserved sequences shared between tetrapods and teleosts or between paralogous clusters. The orthologous teleost clusters, however, show sequence conservation in these regions.
The lack of overall conserved sequences in intergenic regions suggests that there are either other processes than regulatory evolution leading to cluster conservation or that the ancestral regulatory relationships among genes in KCNA clusters have been changed together with their regulatory sites.
Gene expression was investigated in the major brain subdivisions (telencephalon, diencephalon, midbrain and hindbrain) in a representative reptile, Alligator mississipiensis, during the later stages of embryonic development. The following genes were examined: voltage-gated sodium channel isoforms: NaV1.1 and NaV1.2; synaptic vesicle 2a (SV2a); synaptophysin; and calbindin 2. With the exception of synaptophysin, which was only expressed in the telencephalon, all genes were expressed in all brain regions sampled at the time periods examined. For NaV1.1, gene expression varied according to brain area sampled. When compared with NaV1.1, the pattern of NaV1.2 gene expression differed appreciably. The gene expression of SV2a was the most robust of any of the genes examined. Of the other genes examined, although differences were noted, no statistically significant changes were found either between brain part or time interval. Although limited, the present analysis is the first quantitative mRNA gene expression study in any reptile during development. Together with future experiments of a similar nature, the present gene expression results should determine which genes are expressed in major brain areas at which times during development in Alligator. When compared with other amniotes, these results will prove useful for determining how gene expression during development influences adult brain structure.
Alligator; Calbindin 2; qPCR; Synaptic vesicle protein 2; Synaptophysin; Voltage-gated sodium channel
One of the greatest challenges facing the early land vertebrates was the need to effectively interpret a terrestrial environment. Interpretation was based on ocular adaptations evolved for an aquatic environment millions of years earlier. The Australian lungfish Neoceratodus forsteri is thought to be the closest living relative to the first terrestrial vertebrate, and yet nothing is known about the visual pigments present in lungfish or the early tetrapods.
Here we identify and characterise five visual pigments (rh1, rh2, lws, sws1 and sws2) expressed in the retina of N. forsteri. Phylogenetic analysis of the molecular evolution of lungfish and other vertebrate visual pigment genes indicates a closer relationship between lungfish and amphibian pigments than to pigments in teleost fishes. However, the relationship between lungfish, the coelacanth and tetrapods could not be absolutely determined from opsin phylogeny, supporting an unresolved trichotomy between the three groups.
The presence of four cone pigments in Australian lungfish suggests that the earliest tetrapods would have had a colorful view of their terrestrial environment.
Sodium channels play an essential role in generating the action potential in eukaryotic cells, and their transcripts, especially those in insects, undergo extensive A-to-I RNA editing. The functional consequences of RNA editing of sodium channel transcripts, however, have yet to be determined. We characterized 20 splice variants of the German cockroach sodium channel gene BgNav. Functional analysis revealed that these variants exhibited a broad range of voltage-dependent activation and inactivation. Further analysis of two variants, BgNav1-1 and BgNav1-2, which activate at more depolarizing membrane potentials than other variants, showed that RNA editing events were responsible for variant-specific gating properties. Two U-to-C editing sites identified in BgNav1-1 resulted in a Leu to Pro change in segment 1 of domain III (IIIS1) and a Val to Ala change in IVS4. The Leu to Pro change shifted both the voltage dependence of activation and steady-state inactivation in the depolarizing direction. Two A-to-I editing events in BgNav1-2 resulted in a Lys to Arg change in IS2 and an Ile to Met change in IVS3. The Lys to Arg change shifted the voltage dependence of activation in the depolarizing direction. Moreover, these RNA editing events occurred in a tissue-specific and development-specific manner. Our findings provide direct evidence that RNA editing is an important mechanism generating tissue-/cell type-specific functional variants of sodium channels.
Voltage-activated sodium (Nav) channels are crucial for the generation and propagation of nerve impulses, and as such are amongst the most widely targeted ion channels by toxins and drugs. The four voltage sensors in Nav channels have distinct amino acid sequences, raising fundamental questions about their relative contributions to the function and pharmacology of the channel. Here we use four-fold symmetric voltage-activated potassium (Kv) channels as reporters to examine the contributions of individual Nav channel S3b-S4 paddle motifs to the kinetics of voltage sensor activation and to forming toxin receptors. Our results uncover binding sites for toxins from tarantula and scorpion venom on each of the four paddle motifs in Nav channels and reveal how paddle-specific interactions can be used to reshape Nav channel activity. One paddle motif is unique in that it slows voltage sensor activation and toxins selectively targeting this motif impede Nav channel inactivation. This reporter approach and the principles that emerge will be useful in developing new drugs for treating pain and Nav channelopathies.
The lipid bilayer is important for maintaining the integrity of cellular compartments and plays a vital role in providing the hydrophobic and charged interactions necessary for membrane protein structure, conformational flexibility and function. To directly assess the lipid dependence of activity for voltage-gated sodium channels, we compared the activity of three bacterial sodium channel homologues (NaChBac, NavMs, and NavSp) by cumulative 22Na+ uptake into proteoliposomes containing a 3∶1 ratio of 1-palmitoyl 2-oleoyl phosphatidylethanolamine and different “guest” glycerophospholipids. We observed a unique lipid profile for each channel tested. NavMs and NavSp showed strong preference for different negatively-charged lipids (phosphatidylinositol and phosphatidylglycerol, respectively), whilst NaChBac exhibited a more modest variation with lipid type. To investigate the molecular bases of these differences we used synchrotron radiation circular dichroism spectroscopy to compare structures in liposomes of different composition, and molecular modeling and electrostatics calculations to rationalize the functional differences seen. We then examined pore-only constructs (with voltage sensor subdomains removed) and found that in these channels the lipid specificity was drastically reduced, suggesting that the specific lipid influences on voltage-gated sodium channels arise primarily from their abilities to interact with the voltage-sensing subdomains.
Scorpion β toxins, peptides of ∼70 residues, specifically target voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels to cause use-dependent subthreshold channel openings via a voltage–sensor trapping mechanism. This excitatory action is often overlaid by a not yet understood depressant mode in which NaV channel activity is inhibited. Here, we analyzed these two modes of gating modification by β-toxin Tz1 from Tityus zulianus on heterologously expressed NaV1.4 and NaV1.5 channels using the whole cell patch-clamp method. Tz1 facilitated the opening of NaV1.4 in a use-dependent manner and inhibited channel opening with a reversed use dependence. In contrast, the opening of NaV1.5 was exclusively inhibited without noticeable use dependence. Using chimeras of NaV1.4 and NaV1.5 channels, we demonstrated that gating modification by Tz1 depends on the specific structure of the voltage sensor in domain 2. Although residue G658 in NaV1.4 promotes the use-dependent transitions between Tz1 modification phenotypes, the equivalent residue in NaV1.5, N803, abolishes them. Gating charge neutralizations in the NaV1.4 domain 2 voltage sensor identified arginine residues at positions 663 and 669 as crucial for the outward and inward movement of this sensor, respectively. Our data support a model in which Tz1 can stabilize two conformations of the domain 2 voltage sensor: a preactivated outward position leading to NaV channels that open at subthreshold potentials, and a deactivated inward position preventing channels from opening. The results are best explained by a two-state voltage–sensor trapping model in that bound scorpion β toxin slows the activation as well as the deactivation kinetics of the voltage sensor in domain 2.
The number of voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels available to generate action potentials in muscles and nerves is adjusted over seconds to minutes by prior electrical activity, a process called slow inactivation (SI). The basis for SI is uncertain. NaV channels have four domains (DI–DIV), each with a voltage sensor that moves in response to depolarizing stimulation over milliseconds to activate the channels. Here, SI of the skeletal muscle channel NaV1.4 is induced by repetitive stimulation and is studied by recording of sodium currents, gating currents, and changes in the fluorescence of probes on each voltage sensor to assess their movements. The magnitude, voltage dependence, and time course of the onset and recovery of SI are observed to correlate with voltage-sensor movements 10,000-fold slower than those associated with activation. The behavior of each voltage sensor is unique. Development of SI over 1–160 s correlates best with slow immobilization of the sensors in DI and DII; DIII tracks the onset of SI with less fidelity. Showing linkage to the sodium conduction pathway, pore block by tetrodotoxin affects both SI and immobilization of all the sensors, with DI and DII significantly suppressed. Recovery from SI correlates best with slow restoration of mobility of the sensor in DIII. The findings suggest that voltage-sensor movements determine SI and thereby mediate NaV channel availability.
The voltage-activated sodium (Nav) channel Nav1.9 is expressed in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons where it is believed to play an important role in nociception. Progress in revealing the functional properties and pharmacological sensitivities of this non-canonical Nav channel has been slow because attempts to express this channel in a heterologous expression system have been unsuccessful. Here, we use a protein engineering approach to dissect the contributions of the four Nav1.9 voltage sensors to channel function and pharmacology. We define individual S3b–S4 paddle motifs within each voltage sensor, and show that they can sense changes in membrane voltage and drive voltage sensor activation when transplanted into voltage-activated potassium channels. We also find that the paddle motifs in Nav1.9 are targeted by animal toxins, and that these toxins alter Nav1.9-mediated currents in DRG neurons. Our results demonstrate that slowly activating and inactivating Nav1.9 channels have functional and pharmacological properties in common with canonical Nav channels, but also show distinctive pharmacological sensitivities that can potentially be exploited for developing novel treatments for pain.
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
In skeletal muscle, slow inactivation (SI) of NaV1.4 voltage-gated sodium channels prevents spontaneous depolarization and fatigue. Inherited mutations in NaV1.4 that impair SI disrupt activity-induced regulation of channel availability and predispose patients to hyperkalemic periodic paralysis. In our companion paper in this issue (Silva and Goldstein. 2013. J. Gen. Physiol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1085/jgp.201210909), the four voltage sensors in NaV1.4 responsible for activation of channels over microseconds are shown to slowly immobilize over 1–160 s as SI develops and to regain mobility on recovery from SI. Individual sensor movements assessed via attached fluorescent probes are nonidentical in their voltage dependence, time course, and magnitude: DI and DII track SI onset, and DIII appears to reflect SI recovery. A causal link was inferred by tetrodotoxin (TTX) suppression of both SI onset and immobilization of DI and DII sensors. Here, the association of slow sensor immobilization and SI is verified by study of NaV1.4 channels with a hyperkalemic periodic paralysis mutation; L689I produces complex changes in SI, and these are found to manifest directly in altered sensor movements. L689I removes a component of SI with an intermediate time constant (∼10 s); the mutation also impedes immobilization of the DI and DII sensors over the same time domain in support of direct mechanistic linkage. A model that recapitulates SI attributes responsibility for intermediate SI to DI and DII (10 s) and a slow component to DIII (100 s), which accounts for residual SI, not impeded by L689I or TTX.
Voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSC) are critical membrane components that participate in the electrical activity of excitable cells. The type one VGSC family includes the tetrodotoxin insensitive sodium channel, Nav1.8, encoded by the Scn10a gene. Nav1.8 expression is restricted to small and medium diameter nociceptive sensory neurons of the dorsal root (DRG) and cranial sensory ganglia. In order to understand the stringent transcriptional regulation of the Scn10a gene, the sensory neuron specific promoter was functionally identified. While identifying the mRNA 5’ end, alternative splicing within the 5’ UTR was observed to create heterogeneity in the RNA transcript. Four kilobases of upstream genomic DNA was cloned and the presence of tissue specific promoter activity was tested by microinjection and adenoviral infection of fluorescent protein reporter constructs into primary mouse and rat neurons, and cell lines. The region contained many putative transcription factor binding sites and strong homology with the predicted rat ortholog. Homology to the predicted human ortholog was limited to the proximal end and several conserved cis elements were noted. Two regulatory modules were identified by microinjection of reporter constructs into DRG and superior cervical ganglia neurons: a neuron specific proximal promoter region between −1.6 and −0.2kb of the transcription start site cluster, and a distal sensory neuron switch region beyond −1.6kb that restricted fluorescent protein expression to a subset of primary sensory neurons.
tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channel; pain; promoter; sensory neuron
Despite increasing evidence for the presence of voltage-gated Na+ channels (Nav) isoforms and measurements of Nav channel currents with the patch-clamp technique in arterial myocytes, no information is available to date as to whether or not Nav channels play a functional role in arteries. The aim of the present work was to look for a physiological role of Nav channels in the control of rat aortic contraction.
Nav channels were detected in the aortic media by Western blot analysis and double immunofluorescence labeling for Nav channels and smooth muscle α-actin using specific antibodies. In parallel, using real time RT-PCR, we identified three Nav transcripts: Nav1.2, Nav1.3, and Nav1.5. Only the Nav1.2 isoform was found in the intact media and in freshly isolated myocytes excluding contamination by other cell types. Using the specific Nav channel agonist veratridine and antagonist tetrodotoxin (TTX), we unmasked a contribution of these channels in the response to the depolarizing agent KCl on rat aortic isometric tension recorded from endothelium-denuded aortic rings. Experimental conditions excluded a contribution of Nav channels from the perivascular sympathetic nerve terminals. Addition of low concentrations of KCl (2–10 mM), which induced moderate membrane depolarization (e.g., from −55.9±1.4 mV to −45.9±1.2 mV at 10 mmol/L as measured with microelectrodes), triggered a contraction potentiated by veratridine (100 µM) and blocked by TTX (1 µM). KB-R7943, an inhibitor of the reverse mode of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, mimicked the effect of TTX and had no additive effect in presence of TTX.
These results define a new role for Nav channels in arterial physiology, and suggest that the TTX-sensitive Nav1.2 isoform, together with the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, contributes to the contractile response of aortic myocytes at physiological range of membrane depolarization.