Isoflurane inhibits NaChBac, a prokaryotic voltage-gated sodium channel

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2007 Sep;322(3):1076-83. doi: 10.1124/jpet.107.122929. Epub 2007 Jun 14.


Volatile anesthetics inhibit mammalian voltage-gated Na(+) channels, an action that contributes to their presynaptic inhibition of neurotransmitter release. We measured the effects of isoflurane, a prototypical halogenated ether volatile anesthetic, on the prokaryotic voltage-gated Na(+) channel from Bacillus halodurans (NaChBac). Using whole-cell patch-clamp recording, human embryonic kidney 293 cells transfected with NaChBac displayed large inward currents (I(Na)) that activated at potentials of -60 mV or higher with a peak voltage of activation of 0 mV (from a holding potential of -80 mV) or -10 mV (from a holding potential of -100 mV). Isoflurane inhibited I(Na) in a concentration-dependent manner over a clinically relevant concentration range; inhibition was significantly more potent from a holding potential of -80 mV (IC(50) = 0.35 mM) than from -100 mV (IC(50) = 0.48 mM). Isoflurane positively shifted the voltage dependence of peak activation, and it negatively shifted the voltage dependence of end steady-state activation. The voltage dependence of inactivation was negatively shifted with no change in slope factor. Enhanced inactivation of I(Na) was 8-fold more sensitive to isoflurane than reduction of channel opening. In addition to tonic block of closed and/or open channels, isoflurane enhanced use-dependent block by delaying recovery from inactivation. These results indicate that a prokaryotic voltage-gated Na(+) channel, like mammalian voltage-gated Na(+) channels, is inhibited by clinical concentrations of isoflurane involving multiple state-dependent mechanisms. NaChBac should provide a useful model for structure-function studies of volatile anesthetic actions on voltage-gated ion channels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Inhalation / pharmacology
  • Bacillus / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Electrophysiology
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Ion Channel Gating / drug effects*
  • Isoflurane / pharmacology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Sodium Channels / genetics
  • Transfection


  • Anesthetics, Inhalation
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • NaChBac protein, bacteria
  • Sodium Channels
  • Isoflurane