Activation of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) by serine proteases

Annu Rev Physiol. 2009;71:361-79. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.010908.163108.


The study of human monogenic diseases [pseudohypoaldosteronism type 1 (PHA-1) and Liddle's syndrome] as well as mouse models mimicking the salt-losing syndrome (PHA-1) or salt-sensitive hypertension (Liddle's syndrome) have established the epithelial sodium channel ENaC as a limiting factor in vivo in the control of ionic composition of the extracellular fluid, regulation of blood volume and blood pressure, lung alveolar clearance, and airway mucociliary clearance. In this review, we discuss more specifically the activation of ENaC by serine proteases. Recent in vitro and in vivo experiments indicate that membrane-bound serine proteases are of critical importance in the activation of ENaC in different organs, such as the kidney, the lung, or the cochlea. Progress in understanding the basic mechanism of proteolytic activation of ENaC is accelerating, but uncertainty about the most fundamental aspects persists, leaving numerous still-unanswered questions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cochlea / cytology
  • Cochlea / physiology
  • Epithelial Sodium Channels / physiology*
  • Extracellular Fluid / physiology
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / physiology
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / physiology
  • Serine Endopeptidases / physiology*


  • Epithelial Sodium Channels
  • Serine Endopeptidases