Membrane excitability in different tissues is due, in large part, to the selective expression of distinct genes encoding the voltage-dependent sodium channel. Although the predominant sodium channels in brain, skeletal muscle, and cardiac muscle have been identified, the major sodium channel types responsible for excitability within the peripheral nervous system have remained elusive. We now describe the deduced primary structure of a sodium channel, peripheral nerve type 1 (PN1), which is expressed at high levels throughout the peripheral nervous system and is targeted to nerve terminals of cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons. Studies using cultured PC12 cells indicate that both expression and targeting of PN1 is induced by treatment of the cells with nerve growth factor. The preferential localization suggests that the PN1 sodium channel plays a specific role in nerve excitability
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