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Sci Rep. 2015 Dec 15;5:18242. doi: 10.1038/srep18242.

Acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC) 4 predominantly localizes to an early endosome-related organelle upon heterologous expression.

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Institute of Physiology, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstrasse 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany.


Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) are voltage-independent proton-gated amiloride sensitive sodium channels, belonging to the DEG/ENaC gene family. Six different ASICs have been identified (ASIC1a, ASIC1b, ASIC2a, ASIC2b, ASIC3, ASIC4) that are activated by a drop in extracellular pH, either as homo- or heteromers. An exception is ASIC4, which is not activated by protons as a homomer and which does not contribute to functional heteromeric ASICs. Insensitivity of ASIC4 to protons and its comparatively low sequence identity to other ASICs (45%) raises the question whether ASIC4 may have different functions than other ASICs. In this study, we therefore investigated the subcellular localization of ASIC4 in heterologous cell lines, which revealed a surprising accumulation of the channel in early endosome-related vacuoles. Moreover, we identified an unique amino-terminal motif as important for forward-trafficking from the ER/Golgi to the early endosome-related compartment. Collectively, our results show that heterologously expressed ASIC4 predominantly resides in an intracellular endosomal compartment.

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