Tuning Sodium Channel Blockers to the Near-Atomic Level

Sara Eyal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


Dual-Pocket Inhibition of Nav Channels by the Antiepileptic Drug Lamotrigine Huang J, Fan X, Jin X, Teng L, Yan N. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2023;120(41):e2309773120. doi:10.1073/pnas.2309773120 Voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels govern membrane excitability, thus setting the foundation for various physiological and neuronal processes. Nav channels serve as the primary targets for several classes of widely used and investigational drugs, including local anesthetics, antiepileptic drugs, antiarrhythmics, and analgesics. In this study, we present cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures of human Nav1.7 bound to two clinical drugs, riluzole (RLZ) and lamotrigine (LTG), at resolutions of 2.9 Å and 2.7 Å, respectively. A 3D EM reconstruction of ligand-free Nav1.7 was also obtained at 2.1 Å resolution. RLZ resides in the central cavity of the pore domain and is coordinated by residues from repeats III and IV. Whereas one LTG molecule also binds to the central cavity, the other is found beneath the intracellular gate, known as site BIG. Therefore, LTG, similar to lacosamide and cannabidiol, blocks Nav channels via a dual-pocket mechanism. These structures, complemented with docking and mutational analyses, also explain the structure-activity relationships of the LTG-related linear 6,6 series that have been developed for improved efficacy and subtype specificity on different Nav channels. Our findings reveal the molecular basis for these drugs’ mechanism of action and will aid the development of novel antiepileptic and pain-relieving drugs.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalEpilepsy Currents
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

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© The Author(s) 2024.


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