A tamoxifen receptor within a voltage-gated sodium channel

Mol Cell. 2021 Mar 18;81(6):1160-1169.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2020.12.048. Epub 2021 Jan 26.


Voltage-gated sodium channels are targets for many analgesic and antiepileptic drugs whose therapeutic mechanisms and binding sites have been well characterized. We describe the identification of a previously unidentified receptor site within the NavMs voltage-gated sodium channel. Tamoxifen, an estrogen receptor modulator, and its primary and secondary metabolic products bind at the intracellular exit of the channel, which is a site that is distinct from other previously characterized sodium channel drug sites. These compounds inhibit NavMs and human sodium channels with similar potencies and prevent sodium conductance by delaying channel recovery from the inactivated state. This study therefore not only describes the structure and pharmacology of a site that could be leveraged for the development of new drugs for the treatment of sodium channelopathies but may also have important implications for off-target health effects of this widely used therapeutic drug.

Keywords: Channelopathies; Crystal Structure; Drug Binding; Electrophysiology; Estrogen Receptor; Novel Binding Site; Off-Target Drug Effects; Pharmacology; Tamoxifen; Voltage-gated Sodium Channels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Tamoxifen / chemistry*
  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels / chemistry*


  • Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels
  • Tamoxifen