Design of a specific activator for skeletal muscle sodium channels uncovers channel architecture?

Lior Cohen, Nitza Ilan, Maya Gur, Walter Stühmer, Dalia Gordon*, Michael Gurevitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Gating modifiers of voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs) are important tools in neuroscience research and may have therapeutic potential in medicinal disorders. Analysis of the bioactive surface of the scorpion β-toxin Css4 (from Centruroides suffusus suffusus) toward rat brain (rNav1.2a) and skeletal muscle (rNav1.4) channels using binding studies revealed commonality but also substantial differences, which were used to design a specific activator, Css4F14A/E15A/E28R, of rNav1.4 expressed in Xenopus oocytes. The therapeutic potential of Css4F14A/E15A/E28R was tested using an rNav1.4 mutant carrying the same mutation present in the genetic disorder hypokalemic periodic paralysis. The activator restored the impaired gating properties of the mutant channel expressed in oocytes, thus offering a tentative new means for treatment of neuromuscular disorders with reduced muscle excitability. Mutant double cycle analysis employing toxin residues involved in the construction of Css4 F14A/E15A/E28R and residues whose equivalents in the rat brain channel rNav1.2a were shown to affect Css4 binding revealed significant coupling energy (>1.3 kcal/mol) between F14A and E592A at Domain-2/voltage sensor segments 1-2 (D2/S1-S2), R27Q and E1251N at D3/SS2-S6, and E28R with both E650A at D2/S3-S4 and E1251N at D3/SS2-S6. These results show that despite the differences in interactions with the rat brain and skeletal muscle Navs, Css4 recognizes a similar region on both channel subtypes. Moreover, our data indicate that the S3-S4 loop of the voltage sensor module in Domain-2 is in very close proximity to the SS2-S6 segment of the pore module of Domain-3 in rNav1.4. This is the first experimental evidence that the inter-domain spatial organization of mammalian Navs resembles that of voltage-gated potassium channels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29424-29430
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number40
StatePublished - 5 Oct 2007


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeU01NS058039


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