Amiloride-sensitive Na+ channels play a vital role in many important physiological processes such as delineation of the final urine composition, sensory transduction, and whole-body Na+ homeostasis. These channels display a wide range of biophysical properties, and are regulated by cAMP-mediated second messenger systems. The first of these channels has recently been cloned. This cloned amiloride-sensitive Na+ channel is termined ENaC (Epithelial Na+ Channel) and, in heterologous cellular expression systems, displays a single channel conductance of 4 to 7 pS, a high P(Na)/P(K) (> 10), a high amiloride sensitivity (K(i)(amil) = 150 nM), and relatively long open and closed times. ENaC may form the core conduction element of many of these functionally diverse forms of Na+ channel. The kinetic and regulatory differences between these channels may be due, in large measure, to unique polypeptides that associate with the core element, forming a functional channel unit.
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