Identification of the cysteine residue responsible for disulfide linkage of Na+ channel α and β2 subunits

Chunling Chen, Jeffrey D. Calhoun, Yanqing Zhang, Luis Lopez-Santiago, Ningna Zhou, Tigwa H. Davis, James L. Salzer, Lori L. Isom*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Voltage-gated Na+ channels in the brain are composed of a single pore-forming α subunit, one non-covalently linked β subunit (β1 or β3), and one disulfide-linked β subunit (β2 or β4). The final step in Na+ channel biosynthesis in central neurons is concomitant α-β2 disulfide linkage and insertion into the plasma membrane. Consistent with this, Scn2b (encoding β2) null mice have reduced Na+ channel cell surface expression in neurons, and action potential conduction is compromised. Here we generated a series of mutant β2 cDNA constructs to investigate the cysteine residue(s) responsible for α-β2 subunit covalent linkage. We demonstrate that a single cysteine-to-alanine substitution at extracellular residue Cys-26, located within the immunoglobulin (Ig) domain, abolishes the covalent linkage between α and β2 subunits. Loss of α-β2 covalent complex formation disrupts the targeting of β2 to nodes of Ranvier in a myelinating co-culture system and to the axon initial segment in primary hippocampal neurons, suggesting that linkage with α is required for normal β2 subcellular localization in vivo. WT β2 subunits are resistant to live cell Triton X-100 detergent extraction from the hippocampal axon initial segment, whereas mutant β2 subunits, which cannot form disulfide bonds with α, are removed by detergent. Taken together, our results demonstrate that α-β2 covalent association via a single, extracellular disulfide bond is required for β2 targeting to specialized neuronal subcellular domains and for β2 association with the neuronal cytoskeleton within those domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39061-39069
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 9 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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