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Ionic channel activity is involved in fundamental cellular behaviour and participates in cancerous features such as proliferation, migration and invasion which in turn contribute to the metastatic process. In this study, we investigated the expression and role of voltage-gated sodium channels in non-small-cell lung cancer cell lines. Functional voltage-gated sodium channels expression was investigated in normal and non-small-cell lung cancer cell lines. The measurement, in patch-clamp conditions, of tetrodotoxin-inhibitable sodium currents indicated that the strongly metastatic cancerous cell lines H23, H460 and Calu-1 possess functional sodium channels while normal and weakly metastatic cell lines do not. While all the cell lines expressed mRNA for numerous sodium channel isoforms, only H23, H460 and Calu-1 cells had a 250 kDa protein corresponding to the functional channel. The other cell lines also had another protein of 230 kDa which is not addressed to the membrane and might act as a dominant negative isoform to prevent channel activation. At the membrane potential of these cells, channels are partially open. This leads to a continuous entry of sodium, disrupting sodium homeostasis and down-stream signaling pathways. Inhibition of the channels by tetrodotoxin was responsible for a 40-50% reduction of in vitro invasion. These experiments suggest that the functional expression of voltage-gated sodium channels might be an integral component of the metastatic process in non-small-cell lung cancer cells probably through its involvement in the regulation of intracellular sodium homeostasis. These channels could serve both as novel markers of the metastatic phenotype and as potential new therapeutic targets.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Biochem Cell Biol

Publication Date





774 - 786


Blotting, Western, Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung, Cell Line, Tumor, Cell Movement, Cell Proliferation, Cell Survival, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Gene Expression Profiling, Homeostasis, Humans, Intracellular Fluid, Lung Neoplasms, Membrane Potentials, Microscopy, Confocal, Neoplasm Invasiveness, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Protein Isoforms, RNA, Messenger, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Sodium, Sodium Channels, Tetrodotoxin