Characterization of sodium channel α- and β-subunits in rat and mouse cardiac myocytes

Jyoti Dhar Malhotra, Chunling Chen, Ilaria Rivolta, Hugues Abriel, Ricky Malhotra, Laura N. Mattei, Frank C. Brosius, Robert S. Kass, Lori L. Isom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


Background - Sodium channels isolated from mammalian brain are composed of α-, β1-, and β2-subunits. The composition of sodium channels in cardiac muscle, however, has not been defined, and disagreement exists over which β-subunits are expressed in the myocytes. Some investigators have demonstrated β1 expression in heart. Others have not detected any auxiliary subunits. On the basis of Northern blot analysis of total RNA, β2 expression has been thought to be exclusive to neurons and absent from cardiac muscle. Methods and Results - The goal of this study was to define the subunit composition of cardiac sodium channels in myocytes. We show that cardiac sodium channels are composed of α-, β1-, and β2-subunits. Nav1.5 and Nav1.1 are expressed in myocytes and are associated with β1- and β2-subunits. Immunocytochemical localization of Nav1.1, β1, and β2 in adult heart sections showed that these subunits are expressed at the Z lines, as shown previously for Nav1.5. Coexpression of Nav1.5 with β2 in transfected cells resulted in no detectable changes in sodium current. Conclusions - Cardiac sodium channels are composed of α- (Nav1.1 or Nav1.5), β1-, and β2-subunits. Although β1-subunits modulate cardiac sodium channel current, β2-subunit function in heart may be limited to cell adhesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1303-1310
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 6 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Cells
  • Genes
  • Ion channels
  • Signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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