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NaN, a novel voltage-gated Na channel, is expressed preferentially in peripheral sensory neurons and down-regulated after axotomy.

S D Dib-Hajj, L Tyrrell, J A Black, S G Waxman

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 1998 Jul 21 , 95, 8963-8

Although physiological and pharmacological evidence suggests the presence of multiple tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-R) Na channels in neurons of peripheral nervous system ganglia, only one, SNS/PN3, has been identified in these cells to date. We have identified and sequenced a novel Na channel alpha-subunit (NaN), predicted to be TTX-R and voltage-gated, that is expressed preferentially in sensory neurons within dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and trigeminal ganglia. The predicted amino acid sequence of NaN can be aligned with the predicted structure of known Na channel alpha-subunits; all relevant landmark sequences, including positively charged S4 and pore-lining SS1-SS2 segments, and the inactivation tripeptide IFM, are present at predicted positions. However, NaN exhibits only 42-53% similarity to other mammalian Na channels, including SNS/PN3, indicating that it is a novel channel, and suggesting that it may represent a third subfamily of Na channels. NaN transcript levels are reduced significantly 7 days post axotomy in DRG neurons, consistent with previous findings of a reduction in TTX-R Na currents. The preferential expression of NaN in DRG and trigeminal ganglia and the reduction of NaN mRNA levels in DRG after axonal injury suggest that NaN, together with SNS/PN3, may produce TTX-R currents in peripheral sensory neurons and may influence the generation of electrical activity in these cells.