Sodium Channel β1 Subunits Are Post-Translationally Modified by Tyrosine Phosphorylation, S-palmitoylation, and Regulated Intramembrane Proteolysis

J Biol Chem. 2020 Jun 5;jbc.RA120.013978. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA120.013978. Online ahead of print.


Voltage-gated sodium channel (VGSC) β1 subunits are multifunctional proteins that modulate the biophysical properties and cell-surface localization of VGSC α subunits and participate in cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion, all with important implications for intracellular signal transduction, cell migration, and differentiation. Human loss-of-function variants in SCN1B, the gene encoding the VGSC β1 subunits, are linked to severe diseases with high risk for sudden death, including epileptic encephalopathy and cardiac arrhythmia. We showed previously that β1 subunits are post-translationally modified by tyrosine phosphorylation. We also showed that β1 subunits undergo regulated intramembrane proteolysis (RIP) via the activity of β-secretase 1 (BACE1) and γ-secretase, resulting in the generation of a soluble intracellular domain, β1-ICD, which modulates transcription. Here, we report that β1 subunits are phosphorylated by FYN kinase. Moreover, we show that β1 subunits are S-palmitoylated. Substitution of a single residue in β1, Cys-162, to alanine prevented palmitoylation, reduced the level of β1 polypeptides at the plasma membrane, and reduced the extent of β1 RIP, suggesting that the plasma membrane is the site of β1 proteolytic processing. Treatment with the clathrin-mediated endocytosis inhibitor Dyngo-4a restored plasma membrane association of β1-p.C162A to WT levels. Despite these observations, palmitoylation-null β1-p.C162A modulated sodium current and sorted to detergent-resistant membrane fractions normally. This is the first demonstration of S-palmitoylation of a VGSC β subunit, establishing precedence for this post-translational modification as a regulatory mechanism in this protein family.

Keywords: beta-secretase 1 (BACE1); gamma-secretase; intramembrane proteolysis; membrane trafficking; post-translational modification (PTM); protein palmitoylation; sodium channel.