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J Biol Chem. 2012 Oct 26;287(44):37021-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.382077. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

The sigma-1 receptor binds to the Nav1.5 voltage-gated Na+ channel with 4-fold symmetry.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1PD, United Kingdom.


The sigma-1 receptor (Sig1R) is up-regulated in many human tumors and plays a role in the control of cancer cell proliferation and invasiveness. At the molecular level, the Sig1R modulates the activity of various ion channels, apparently through a direct interaction. We have previously shown using atomic force microscopy imaging that the Sig1R binds to the trimeric acid-sensing ion channel 1A with 3-fold symmetry. Here, we investigated the interaction between the Sig1R and the Nav1.5 voltage-gated Na(+) channel, which has also been implicated in promoting the invasiveness of cancer cells. We show that the Sig1R and Nav1.5 can be co-isolated from co-transfected cells, consistent with an intimate association between the two proteins. Atomic force microscopy imaging of the co-isolated proteins revealed complexes in which Nav1.5 was decorated by Sig1Rs. Frequency distributions of angles between pairs of bound Sig1Rs had two peaks, at ∼90° and ∼180°, and the 90° peak was about twice the size of the 180° peak. These results demonstrate that the Sig1R binds to Nav1.5 with 4-fold symmetry. Hence, each set of six transmembrane regions in Nav1.5 likely constitutes a Sig1R binding site, suggesting that the Sig1R interacts with the transmembrane regions of its partners. Interestingly, two known Sig1R ligands, haloperidol and (+)-pentazocine, disrupted the Nav1.5/Sig1R interaction both in vitro and in living cells. Finally, we show that endogenously expressed Sig1R and Nav1.5 also functionally interact.

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