Functional analysis in a model sea anemone reveals phylogenetic complexity and a role in cnidocyte discharge of DEG/ENaC ion channels

Jose Maria Aguilar-Camacho, Katharina Foreman, Adrian Jaimes-Becerra, Reuven Aharoni, Stefan Gründer*, Yehu Moran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ion channels of the DEG/ENaC family share a similar structure but serve strikingly diverse biological functions, such as Na+ reabsorption, mechanosensing, proton-sensing, chemosensing and cell-cell communication via neuropeptides. This functional diversity raises the question of the ancient function of DEG/ENaCs. Using an extensive phylogenetic analysis across many different animal groups, we found a surprising diversity of DEG/ENaCs already in Cnidaria (corals, sea anemones, hydroids and jellyfish). Using a combination of gene expression analysis, electrophysiological and functional studies combined with pharmacological inhibition as well as genetic knockout in the model cnidarian Nematostella vectensis, we reveal an unanticipated role for a proton-sensitive DEG/ENaC in discharge of N. vectensis cnidocytes, the stinging cells typifying all cnidarians. Our study supports the view that DEG/ENaCs are versatile channels that have been co-opted for diverse functions since their early occurrence in animals and that respond to simple and ancient stimuli, such as omnipresent protons.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number17
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

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© 2023, The Author(s).

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