Cardiac afferents are sensory neurons that mediate angina, pain that occurs when the heart receives insufficient blood supply for its metabolic demand (ischemia). These neurons display enormous acid-evoked depolarizing currents, and they fire action potentials in response to extracellular acidification that accompanies myocardial ischemia. Here we show that acid-sensing ion channel 3 (ASIC3), but no other known acid-sensing ion channel, reproduces the functional features of the channel that underlies the large acid-evoked current in cardiac afferents. ASIC3 and the native channel are both especially sensitive to pH, interact similarly with Ca2+, and gate rapidly between closed, open, and desensitized states. Particularly important is the ability of ASIC3 and the native channel to open at pH 7, a value reached in the first few minutes of a heart attack. The steep activation curve suggests that the channel opens when four protons bind. We propose that ASIC3, a member of the degenerin channel (of Caenorhabditis elegans)/epithelial sodium channel family of ion channels, is the sensor of myocardial acidity that triggers cardiac pain, and that it might be a useful pharmaceutical target for treating angina.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jan 16 2001|
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