Sodium channel 6 (NaCh6) is the alpha-subunit of a voltage-gated sodium channel expressed in the rat nervous system. The mRNA for this isoform has been shown to be expressed in both neuronal and glial cells by in situ hybridization. To examine localization of NaCh6 protein, polyclonal antibodies specific for NaCh6 were generated against peptides from two cytoplasmic domains and a fusion protein from an extracellular domain. Affinity-purified antibodies were used to localize NaCh6 in the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system, and neuromuscular junction. There was widespread labeling of neurons in the brain and spinal cord. NaCh6 was present in both sensory and motor pathways. Radial glial cells in the cerebellum were intensely labeled for both GFAP and NaCh6. At the subcellular level, NaCh6 is found in axons, dendrites, and the cell body. Motor neurons and primary sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglia had strong cytoplasmic and axonal staining. Nodes of Ranvier in peripheral nerve and in the spinal cord were also intensely labeled. Motor neuron axons near the neuromuscular junction were labeled up to, but not including, terminal boutons. Dendrites of pyramidal cells in the cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum were labeled. NaCh6 is the first NaCh subtype to be localized either at the node of Ranvier or to a dendrite. We conclude that NaCh6 is widely distributed in the central and peripheral nervous systems and is likely to be important for the electrical properties of the axon and dendrite.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.