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Immunolocalization of the mNav2.3 Na+ channel in mouse heart: upregulation in myometrium during pregnancy.

T J Knittle, K L Doyle, M M Tamkun

Am. J. Physiol., 1996 Feb , 270, C688-96

mNav2.3 is a putative voltage-dependent sodium channel (NaC) gene expressed in both mouse heart and uterus that shares only 45% amino acid identity with NaCs from gene subfamily 1. Immunofluorescence studies using polyclonal antibodies against two distinct epitopes revealed that mNav2.3 protein in heart colocalized with nerve-specific antibody binding. Similar mNav2.3-specific antibody staining was observed in virgin uterus. However, mNav2.3 expression in uterine nerve disappeared during late pregnancy, concurrent with an appearance in both the longitudinal and circular uterine smooth muscle, which reached a maximum at term and quickly declined within 2 days postpartum. mNav2.3 expression in term uterus often colocalized on the myocyte surface with connexin 43. The immunofluorescence results are supported by Western analysis in which the 217-kDa NaC increased during late pregnancy and declined 2 days postpartum. These data provide perhaps the most dramatic example of NaC regulation. The acute and transient upregulation in myometrium during gestation suggests the Nav2.3 channel plays a role in uterine function at term.