Author(s): Gur Barzilai M, Reitzel AM, Kraus JE, Gordon D, Technau U,
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Abstract Ion selectivity of metazoan voltage-gated Na(+) channels is critical for neuronal signaling and has long been attributed to a ring of four conserved amino acids that constitute the ion selectivity filter (SF) at the channel pore. Yet, in addition to channels with a preference for Ca(2+) ions, the expression and characterization of Na(+) channel homologs from the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, a member of the early-branching metazoan phylum Cnidaria, revealed a sodium-selective channel bearing a noncanonical SF. Mutagenesis and physiological assays suggest that pore elements additional to the SF determine the preference for Na(+) in this channel. Phylogenetic analysis assigns the Nematostella Na(+)-selective channel to a channel group unique to Cnidaria, which diverged >540 million years ago from Ca(2+)-conducting Na(+) channel homologs. The identification of Cnidarian Na(+)-selective ion channels distinct from the channels of bilaterian animals indicates that selectivity for Na(+) in neuronal signaling emerged independently in these two animal lineages. Copyright © 2012 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Cell Rep
and referenced in Biological Systems: Open Access