Distinctive Properties and Powerful Neuromodulation of Nav1.6 Sodium Channels Regulates Neuronal Excitability

Cells. 2021 Jun 25;10(7):1595. doi: 10.3390/cells10071595.


Voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs) are critical determinants of cellular excitability. These ion channels exist as large heteromultimeric structures and their activity is tightly controlled. In neurons, the isoform Nav1.6 is highly enriched at the axon initial segment and nodes, making it critical for the initiation and propagation of neuronal impulses. Changes in Nav1.6 expression and function profoundly impact the input-output properties of neurons in normal and pathological conditions. While mutations in Nav1.6 may cause channel dysfunction, aberrant changes may also be the result of complex modes of regulation, including various protein-protein interactions and post-translational modifications, which can alter membrane excitability and neuronal firing properties. Despite decades of research, the complexities of Nav1.6 modulation in health and disease are still being determined. While some modulatory mechanisms have similar effects on other Nav isoforms, others are isoform-specific. Additionally, considerable progress has been made toward understanding how individual protein interactions and/or modifications affect Nav1.6 function. However, there is still more to be learned about how these different modes of modulation interact. Here, we examine the role of Nav1.6 in neuronal function and provide a thorough review of this channel's complex regulatory mechanisms and how they may contribute to neuromodulation.

Keywords: action potential; axon initial segment; channelopathies; post-translational modifications; protein-protein interactions; sodium currents; voltage-gated sodium channel.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calmodulin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / chemistry
  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational


  • Calmodulin
  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • Calcium