Sodium channel auxiliary subunits

Tsai Tien Tseng, Allison M. McMahon, Victoria T. Johnson, Erwin Z. Mangubat, Robert J. Zahm, Mary E. Pacold, Eric Jakobsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Voltage-gated ion channels are well known for their functional roles in excitable tissues. Excitable tissues rely on voltage-gated ion channels and their auxiliary subunits to achieve concerted electrical activity in living cells. Auxiliary subunits are also known to provide functional diversity towards the transport and biogenesis properties of the principal subunits. Recent interests in pharmacological properties of these auxiliary subunits have prompted significant amounts of efforts in understanding their physiological roles. Some auxiliary subunits can potentially serve as drug targets for novel analgesics. Three families of sodium channel auxiliary subunits are described here: β1 and β3, β2 and β4, and temperature-induced paralytic E (TipE). While sodium channel β-subunits are encoded in many animal genomes, TipE has only been found exclusively in insects. In this review, we present phylogenetic analyses, discuss potential evolutionary origins and functional data available for each of these subunits. For each family, we also correlate the functional specificity with the history of evolution for the individual auxiliary subunits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-262
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Auxiliary subunits
  • Membrane transport
  • Phylogeny
  • Sodium channels
  • Transporter classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology


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