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Sodium channel beta4, a new disulfide-linked auxiliary subunit with similarity to beta2.

Frank H Yu, Ruth E Westenbroek, Inmaculada Silos-Santiago, Kimberly A McCormick, Deborah Lawson, Pei Ge, Holly Ferriera, Jeremiah Lilly, Peter S DiStefano, William A Catterall, Todd Scheuer, Rory Curtis

J. Neurosci., 2003 Aug 20 , 23, 7577-85

The principal alpha subunit of voltage-gated sodium channels is associated with auxiliary beta subunits that modify channel function and mediate protein-protein interactions. We have identified a new beta subunit termed beta4. Like the beta1-beta3 subunits, beta4 contains a cleaved signal sequence, an extracellular Ig-like fold, a transmembrane segment, and a short intracellular C-terminal tail. Using TaqMan reverse transcription-PCR analysis, in situ hybridization, and immunocytochemistry, we show that beta4 is widely distributed in neurons in the brain, spinal cord, and some sensory neurons.beta4 is most similar to the beta2 subunit (35% identity), and, like the beta2 subunit, the Ig-like fold of beta4 contains an unpaired cysteine that may interact with the alpha subunit. Under nonreducing conditions, beta4 has a molecular mass exceeding 250 kDa because of its covalent linkage to Nav1.2a, whereas on reduction, it migrates with a molecular mass of 38 kDa, similar to the mature glycosylated forms of the other beta subunits. Coexpression of beta4 with brain Nav1.2a and skeletal muscle Nav1.4 alpha subunits in tsA-201 cells resulted in a negative shift in the voltage dependence of channel activation, which overrode the opposite effects of beta1 and beta3 subunits when they were present. This novel, disulfide-linked beta subunit is likely to affect both protein-protein interactions and physiological function of multiple sodium channel alpha subunits.