DEG/ENaC channels: A touchy superfamily that watches its salt

Itzhak Mano, Monica Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

124 Scopus citations


To the surprise of many, studies of molecular mechanisms of touch transduction and analyses of epithelial Na+ transport have converged to define a new class of ion channel subunits. Based on the names of the first two identified subfamilies, the Caenorhabditis elegans degenerins and the vertebrate epithelial amiloride-sensitive Na+ channel, this ion channel class is called the DEG/ENaC superfamily. Members of the DEG/ENaC superfamily have been found in nematodes, flies, snails, and vertebrates. Family members share common topology, such that they span the membrane twice and have intracellular N- and C-termini; a large extracellular loop includes a conserved cysteine-rich region. DEG/ENaC channels have been implicated a broad spectrum of cellular functions, including mechanosensation, proprioception, pain sensation, gametogenesis, and epithelial Na+ transport. These channels exhibit diverse gating properties, ranging from near constitutive opening to rapid inactivation. We discuss working understanding of DEG/ENaC functions, channel properties, structure/activity correlations and possible evolutionary relationship to other channel classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-578
Number of pages11
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 1999


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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