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J Neurosci. 2001 Apr 15;21(8):2678-86.

Transport and localization of the DEG/ENaC ion channel BNaC1alpha to peripheral mechanosensory terminals of dorsal root ganglia neurons.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Neurobiology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Mammalian brain sodium channel (BNaC, also known as BNC/ASIC) proteins form acid-sensitive and amiloride-blockable sodium channels that are related to putative mechanosensory channels. Certain BNaC isoforms are expressed exclusively in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and have been proposed to form the ion channels mediating tissue acidosis-induced pain. With antibody labeling, we find that the BNaC1alpha isoform is expressed by most large DRG neurons (low-threshold mechanosensors not involved in acid-induced nociception) and few small nociceptor neurons (which include high-threshold mechanoreceptors). BNaC1alpha is transported from DRG cell bodies to sensory terminals in the periphery, but not to the spinal cord, and is located specifically at specialized cutaneous mechanosensory terminals, including Meissner, Merkel, penicillate, reticular, lanceolate, and hair follicle palisades as well as some intraepidermal and free myelinated nerve endings. Accordingly, BNaC1alpha channels might participate in the transduction of touch and painful mechanical stimuli.

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