Distinction among neuronal subtypes of voltage-activated sodium channels by μ-conotoxin PIIIA

Patrick Safo, Tamara Rosenbaum, Anatoly Shcherbatko, Deog Young Choi, Edward Han, Juan J. Toledo-Aral, Baldomero M. Olivera, Paul Brehm, Gail Mandel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The functional properties of most sodium channels are too similar to permit identification of specific sodium channel types underlying macroscopic current. Such discrimination would be particularly advantageous in the nervous system in which different sodium channel family isoforms are coexpressed in the same cell. To test whether members of the μ-conotoxin family can discriminate among known neuronal sodium channel types, we examined six toxins for their ability to block different types of heterologously expressed sodium channels. PIIIA μ-conotoxin blocked rat brain type II/IIA (rBII/IIA) and skeletal muscle sodium current at concentrations that resulted in only slight inhibition of rat peripheral nerve (rPN1) sodium current. Recordings from variant lines of PC12 cells, which selectively express either rBII/IIA or rPN1 channel subtypes, verified that the differential block by PIIIA also applied to native sodium current. The sensitivity to block by PIIIA toxin was then used to discriminate between rBII/IIA and rPN1 sodium currents in NGF-treated PC12 cells in which both mRNAs are induced. During the first 24 hr of NGF-treatment, PN1 sodium channels accounted for over 90% of the sodium current. However, over the ensuing 48 hr period, a sharp rise in the proportion of rBII/IIA sodium current occurred, confirming the idea, based on previous mRNA measurements, that two distinct sodium channel types appear sequentially during neuronal differentiation of PC12 cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-80
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • CNS
  • Growth factor
  • Ion channel
  • PC12 cells
  • PNS
  • Sodium current

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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