Trafficking mechanisms underlying Nav channel subcellular localization in neurons

Channels (Austin). 2020 Dec;14(1):1-17. doi: 10.1080/19336950.2019.1700082.


Voltage gated sodium channels (Nav) play a crucial role in action potential initiation and propagation. Although the discovery of Nav channels dates back more than 65 years, and great advances in understanding their localization, biophysical properties, and links to disease have been made, there are still many questions to be answered regarding the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in Nav channel trafficking, localization and regulation. This review summarizes the different trafficking mechanisms underlying the polarized Nav channel localization in neurons, with an emphasis on the axon initial segment (AIS), as well as discussing the latest advances regarding how neurons regulate their excitability by modifying AIS length and location. The importance of Nav channel localization is emphasized by the relationship between mutations, impaired trafficking and disease. While this review focuses on Nav1.6, other Nav isoforms are also discussed.

Keywords: Nav1.6; Voltage-gated sodium channel; axon initial segment; channelopathies; ion channel localization; plasticity; trafficking.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / genetics
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Axon Initial Segment / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / genetics
  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels / genetics
  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels / metabolism*


  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • SCN8A protein, human
  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels