Characterisation of Nav types endogenously expressed in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells

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The human neuroblastoma cell line SH-SY5Y is a potentially useful model for the identification and characterisation of Nav modulators, but little is known about the pharmacology of their endogenously expressed Navs. The aim of this study was to determine the expression of endogenous Nav α and β subunits in SH-SY5Y cells using PCR and immunohistochemical approaches, and pharmacologically characterise the Nav isoforms endogenously expressed in this cell line using electrophysiological and fluorescence approaches. SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells were found to endogenously express several Nav isoforms including Nav1.2 and Nav1.7. Activation of endogenously expressed Navs with veratridine or the scorpion toxin OD1 caused membrane depolarisation and subsequent Ca2+ influx through voltage-gated L- and N-type calcium channels, allowing Nav activation to be detected with membrane potential and fluorescent Ca2 dyes. μ-Conotoxin TIIIA and ProTxII identified Nav1.2 and Nav1.7 as the major contributors of this response. The Nav1.7-selective scorpion toxin OD1 in combination with veratridine produced a Nav1.7-selective response, confirming that endogenously expressed human Nav1.7 in SH-SY5Y cells is functional and can be synergistically activated, providing a new assay format for ligand screening.

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