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A novel persistent tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium current in SNS-null and wild-type small primary sensory neurons.

T R Cummins, S D Dib-Hajj, J A Black, A N Akopian, J N Wood, S G Waxman

J. Neurosci., 1999 Dec 15 , 19, RC43

TTX-resistant (TTX-R) sodium currents are preferentially expressed in small C-type dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, which include nociceptive neurons. Two mRNAs that are predicted to encode TTX-R sodium channels, SNS and NaN, are preferentially expressed in C-type DRG cells. To determine whether there are multiple TTX-R currents in these cells, we used patch-clamp recordings to study sodium currents in SNS-null mice and found a novel persistent voltage-dependent sodium current in small DRG neurons of both SNS-null and wild-type mice. Like SNS currents, this current is highly resistant to TTX (Ki = 39+/-9 microM). In contrast to SNS currents, the threshold for activation of this current is near 70 mV, the midpoint of steady-state inactivation is -44 +/- 1 mV, and the time constant for inactivation is 43+/-4 msec at 20 mV. The presence of this current in SNS-null and wild-type mice demonstrates that a distinct sodium channel isoform, which we suggest to be NaN, underlies this persistent TTX-R current. Importantly, the hyperpolarized voltage-dependence of this current, the substantial overlap of its activation and steady-state inactivation curves and its persistent nature suggest that this current is active near resting potential, where it may play an important role in regulating excitability of primary sensory neurons.