Protons activate brain Na+ channel 1 by inducing a conformational change that exposes a residue associated with neurodegeneration

Christopher M. Adams, Peter M. Snyder, Margaret P. Price, Michael J. Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BNC1 is a mammalian neuronal cation channel in the novel DEG/ENaC ion channel family. BNC1 channels are transiently activated by extracellular protons and are constitutively activated by insertion of large residues, such as valine, in place of Gly-430; residue 430 is a site where analogous mutations in some Caenorhabditis elegans family members cause a swelling neurodegeneration. Mutation of Gly-430 to a small amino acid, cysteine, neither generated constitutive currents nor allowed modification of this residue by sulfhydryl-reactive methanethiosulfonate (MTS) compounds. However, when protons activated the channel, Cys-430 became accessible to extracellular MTS reagents, which modified Cys-430 to generate constitutive currents. Fluorescent MTS reagents also labeled Cys-430 in activated channels. These data indicate that protons induce a reversible conformational change that activates BNC1 thereby exposing residue 430 to the extracellular solution. Once Cys-430 is modified with a large chemical group, the channel is prevented from relaxing back to the inactive state. These results link ligand-dependent activation and activation by mutations that cause neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30204-30207
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 13 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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