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Neurosci Lett. 2010 Dec 10;486(2):53-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2010.06.050. Epub 2010 Jun 23.

Electrophysiology and beyond: multiple roles of Na+ channel β subunits in development and disease.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, United States.

Abstract

Voltage-gated Na+ channel (VGSC) β Subunits are not "auxiliary." These multi-functional molecules not only modulate Na+ current (I(Na)), but also function as cell adhesion molecules (CAMs)-playing roles in aggregation, migration, invasion, neurite outgrowth, and axonal fasciculation. β subunits are integral members of VGSC signaling complexes at nodes of Ranvier, axon initial segments, and cardiac intercalated disks, regulating action potential propagation through critical intermolecular and cell-cell communication events. At least in vitro, many β subunit cell adhesive functions occur both in the presence and absence of pore-forming VGSC α subunits, and in vivo β subunits are expressed in excitable as well as non-excitable cells, thus β subunits may play important functional roles on their own, in the absence of α subunits. VGSC β1 subunits are essential for life and appear to be especially important during brain development. Mutations in β subunit genes result in a variety of human neurological and cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, some cancer cells exhibit alterations in β subunit expression during metastasis. In short, these proteins, originally thought of as merely accessory to α subunits, are critical players in their own right in human health and disease. Here we discuss the role of VGSC β subunits in the nervous system.

PMID:
20600605
PMCID:
PMC2964441
DOI:
10.1016/j.neulet.2010.06.050
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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