- The epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC) possesses a large extracellular domain formed by a β-strand core enclosed by three peripheral α-helical subdomains, which have been dubbed thumb, finger, and knuckle. Here we asked whether the ENaC thumb domains play specific roles in channel function. To this end, we examined the characteristics of channels lacking a thumb domain in an individual ENaC subunit (α, β, or γ). Removing the γ subunit thumb domain had no effect on Na+ currents when expressed in Xenopus oocytes, but moderately reduced channel surface expression.
- Protein composition at the plasma membrane is tightly regulated, with rapid protein internalization and selective targeting to the cell surface occurring in response to environmental changes. For example, ion channels are dynamically relocalized to or from the plasma membrane in response to physiological alterations, allowing cells and organisms to maintain osmotic and salt homeostasis. To identify additional factors that regulate the selective trafficking of a specific ion channel, we used a yeast model for a mammalian potassium channel, the K+ inward rectifying channel Kir2.1.