Purpose of review: Na,K-ATPase is an oligomeric protein composed of alpha subunits, beta subunits and FXYD proteins. The catalytic alpha subunit hydrolyzes ATP and transports the cations. Increasing experimental evidence suggest that beta subunits and FXYD proteins essentially contribute to the variable physiological needs of Na,K-ATPase function in different tissues.
Recent findings: Beta subunits have a crucial role in the structural and functional maturation of Na,K-ATPase and modulate its transport properties. The chaperone function of the beta subunit is essential, for example, in the formation of tight junctions and cell polarity. Recent studies suggest that beta subunits also have inherent functions, which are independent of Na,K-ATPase activity and which may be involved in cell-cell adhesiveness and in suppression of cell motility. As for FXYD proteins, they modulate Na,K-ATPase activity in a tissue-specific way, in some cases in close cooperation with posttranslational modifications such as phosphorylation.
Summary: A better understanding of the multiple functional roles of the accessory subunits of Na,K-ATPase is crucial to appraise their influence on physiological processes and their implication in pathophysiological states.