Interactions between subunits of the human epithelial sodium channel

Christopher M. Adams, Peter M. Snyder, Michael J. Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The human epithelial sodium channel (hENaC) mediates Na+ transport across the apical membrane of epithelia, and mutations in hENaC result in hypertensive and salt-wasting diseases. In heterologous expression systems, maximal hENaC function requires co-expression of three homologous proteins, the α, β, and γhENaC subunits, suggesting that hENaC subunits interact to form a multimeric channel complex. Using a co-immunoprecipitation assay, we found that hENaC subunits associated tightly to form homo- and heteromeric complexes and that the association between subunits occurred early in channel biosynthesis. Deletion analysis of γhENaC revealed that the N terminus was sufficient but not necessary for co-precipitation of αhENaC, and that both the N terminus and the second transmembrane segment (M2) were required for γ subunit function. The biochemical studies were supported by functional studies. Co-expression of γ subunits lacking M2 with full-length hENaC subunits revealed an inhibitory effect on hENaC channel function that appeared to be mediated by the cytoplasmic N terminus of γ, and was consistent with the assembly of nonfunctional subunits into the channel complex. We conclude that the N terminus of γhENaC is involved in channel assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27295-27300
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number43
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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