Ca2+ permeability and Na+ conductance in cellular toxicity caused by hyperactive DEG/ENaC channels

American Journal of Physiology. Cell Physiology
Cristina MatthewmanLaura Bianchi


Hyperactivated DEG/ENaC channels cause neuronal death mediated by intracellular Ca2+ overload. Mammalian ASIC1a channels and MEC-4(d) neurotoxic channels in Caenorhabditis elegans both conduct Na+ and Ca2+, raising the possibility that direct Ca2+ influx through these channels contributes to intracellular Ca2+ overload. However, we showed that the homologous C. elegans DEG/ENaC channel UNC-8(d) is not Ca2+ permeable, yet it is neurotoxic, suggesting that Na+ influx is sufficient to induce cell death. Interestingly, UNC-8(d) shows small currents due to extracellular Ca2+ block in the Xenopus oocyte expression system. Thus, MEC-4(d) and UNC-8(d) differ both in current amplitude and Ca2+ permeability. Given that these two channels show a striking difference in toxicity, we wondered how Na+ conductance vs. Ca2+ permeability contributes to cell death. To address this question, we built an UNC-8/MEC-4 chimeric channel that retains the calcium permeability of MEC-4 and characterized its properties in Xenopus oocytes. Our data support the hypothesis that for Ca2+-permeable DEG/ENaC channels, both Ca2+ permeability and Na+ conductance contribute to toxicity. However, for Ca2+-impermeable DEG/ENaCs (e.g., UNC-8), our evidence shows that ...Continue Reading


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