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Wednesday 15 September 2004

An amiloride-sensitive H+-gated Na+ channel in Caenorhabditis elegans body wall muscle cells.

By: Jospin M, Allard B.

J Physiol 2004 Sep 15;559(Pt 3):715-20

About 30 genes are predicted to encode degenerin/epithelial sodium channels (DEG/ENaCs) in Caenorhabditis elegans but the gating mode of these channels has not been determined. Using the whole-cell configuration of the patch-clamp technique in acutely dissected C. elegans, we investigated the effects of H+ as a potential activating factor of DEG/ENaCs on electrical properties of body wall muscle cells. Under current-clamp conditions, decreasing external pH from 7.2 to 6.1 led to a reversible depolarization of muscle cells associated with a decrease in input resistance which was partially inhibited by amiloride. Under voltage-clamp conditions, extracellular acidification activated an inward desensitizing current at -60 mV. In the absence of external Ca2+, H+ -gated channels were found to be slightly more permeable to Na+ than to K+ and were blocked by amiloride with a K0.5 of 31 microm at -60 mV. An inward current could be also activated by protons in a GABA receptor null mutant in the presence of D-tubocurare and in an unc-105 null mutant. These results demonstrate that ion channels sharing common properties with mammalian acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) are functional in C. elegans muscle which should prove useful for understanding proton sensing in animals.

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