Regulation of Na+/K+ ATPase Transport Velocity by RNA Editing

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Regulation of Na+/K+ ATPase Transport Velocity by RNA Editing

Public Library of Science
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000540
  • Molecular Biology
  • Research Article
  • Neuroscience/Neuronal And Glial Cell Biology
  • Physiology/Neural Homeostasis
  • Physiology/Integrative Physiology


Author Summary In order for excitable cells like neurons and muscles to generate electrical signals, they require ion gradients across their plasma membranes. For example, sodium concentrations are much lower inside a cell than outside, and for potassium it is the opposite case. The job of maintaining these ion gradients falls squarely on a single protein: the Na+/K+ pump. During each transport cycle, this enzyme moves three sodium ions out of the cell and imports two of potassium. Because this process is the foundation for so many physiological processes, the Na+/K+ pump is costly to operate, using ∼30% of the ATP generated by an organism. Proper regulation of its turnover rate is vital. In this work, we use the giant nerve cell of squid as a model to show that the Na+/K+ pump can be regulated by an unsuspected mechanism. Although the gene that codes for this enzyme can make a perfectly functional pump, sometimes its information changes as it passes through the messenger RNA. This is achieved by editing RNA and as a result subtly different versions of the pump can be made, differing at only three amino acids out of more than a thousand. We demonstrate that RNA editing modulates the Na+/K+ pump's turnover rate and sodium release.

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