The Voltage Gated Sodium Channel β1/β1B subunits: Emerging Therapeutic Targets in the Heart

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Virginia Tech


Voltage-gated sodium channels are composed of pore-forming α-subunits, and modulatory and multifunctional associated β subunits. While much of the field of cardiac electrophysiology and pathology has focused on treating and preventing cardiac arrhythmias by targeting the α subunit, there is also evidence that targeting the β subunits, particularly SCN1B, the gene that encodes β1 and an alternatively spliced variant β1B, has therapeutic potential. The first attempt at targeting the β1 subunit was with the generation of and treatment with an SCN1B Ig domain mimetic peptide βadp1. Here we describe further investigation into the function and mode-of-action of both βadp1 and novel peptides derived from the original βadp1 sequence. We find that in a heterologous expression system βadp1 initially disrupts β1-mediated trans-homophilic adhesion, but after approximately 30 hours eventually increases adhesion. Novel mimetic dimers increase β1 adhesion up to 48 hours post-treatment. Furthermore, it appears that βadp1 may increase β1 adhesion by upregulating the intramembrane proteolysis of β1, a process which has important downstream implications and effects on translation. Despite these exciting findings, we were unable to translate them into a primary culture of cardiac cells with endogenous expression of β1 because we found that both neonatal rat cardiomyocytes and isolated adult mouse cardiomyocytes do not express β1 at detectable levels, whereas they do appear to express β1B. In summary, we show exciting findings on the function and mode-of-action of SCN1B mimetic peptides and their therapeutic potential in targeting the β1 subunit, but further work is needed to determine the translatability of our findings to in vivo models and eventually to humans.



Voltage-gated sodium channels, SCN1B (β1/β1B), peptide therapeutics, arrhythmia, sudden cardiac death