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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Developmental and cellular expression pattern of epithelial sodium channel alpha, beta and gamma subunits in the inner ear of the rat.

Endolymphatic ion composition in the adult inner ear is characterized by high K(+) and low Na(+) concentration. This unique ion composition is essential for proper functioning of sensory processing. Although a lot has been learned in recent years about molecules involved in K(+) transport in inner ear, the molecules involved in Na(+) transport are only beginning to emerge. The epithelial Na(+) channel (ENaC) is a highly selective Na(+) channel that is expressed in many Na(+)-reabsorbing tissues. The aim of our study was to investigate whether ENaC is expressed in inner ear of rats and could account for Na(+) reabsorption from endolymph. We detected mRNA for the three channel-forming subunits (alpha, beta and gamma ENaC) in cochlea, vestibular system and endolymphatic sac. mRNA abundance increased during the first 12 days of life in cochlea and vestibular system, coinciding with decreasing Na(+) concentration in endolymph. Expression was strongest in epithelial cells lining scala media, most notably Claudius' cells. As these cells are characterized by a very negative resting potential they would be ideally suited for reabsorption of Na(+). mRNA abundance in endolymphatic sac decreased during the first 6 days of life, suggesting that ENaC might be implicated in reabsorption of endolymph in the endolymphatic sac of neonatal animals. Together, our results suggest that the epithelial Na+ channel is a good candidate for a molecule involved in Na(+) homeostasis in inner ear.[1]


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