Inhibition of neuronal degenerin/epithelial Na+ channels by the multiple sclerosis drug 4-aminopyridine

Nina Boiko, Volodymyr Kucher, Benjamin A. Eaton, James D. Stockand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The voltage-gated K+ (Kv) channel blocker 4-aminopyridine (4-AP) is used to target symptoms of the neuroinflammatory disease multiple sclerosis (MS). By blocking Kv channels, 4-AP facilitates action potential conduction and neurotransmitter release in presynaptic neurons, lessening the effects of demyelination. Because they conduct inward Na+ and Ca2+ currents that contribute to axonal degeneration in response to inflammatory conditions, acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) contribute to the pathology of MS. Consequently, ASICs are emerging as disease-modifying targets in MS. Surprisingly, as first demonstrated here, 4-AP inhibits neuronal degenerin/epithelial Na+ (Deg/ENaC) channels, including ASIC and BLINaC. This effect is specific for 4-AP compared with its heterocyclic base, pyridine, and the related derivative, 4-methylpyridine; and akin to the actions of 4-AP on the structurally unrelated Kv channels, dose- and voltage-dependent. 4-AP has differential actions on distinct ASICs, strongly inhibiting ASIC1a channels expressed in central neurons but being without effect on ASIC3, which is enriched in peripheral sensory neurons. The voltage dependence of the 4-AP block and the single binding site for this inhibitor are consistent with 4-AP binding in the pore of Deg/ENaC channels as it does Kv channels, suggesting a similar mechanism of inhibition in these two classes of channels. These findings argue that effects on both Kv and Deg/ENaC channels should be considered when evaluating the actions of 4-AP. Importantly, the current results are consistent with 4-AP influencing the symptoms of MS as well as the course of the disease because of inhibitory actions on Kv and ASIC channels, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9418-9427
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 29 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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