The epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC) is a heterotrimeric protein whose assembly, trafficking, and function are highly regulated. To better understand the biogenesis and activation of the channel, we quantified the expression of individual subunits of ENaC in rat kidneys and colon using calibrated Western blots. The estimated abundance for the three subunits differed by an order of magnitude with the order γENaC ∼ βENaC ≫ αENaC in both organs. Transcript abundance in the kidney, measured with digital-drop PCR and RNAseq, was similar for the three subunits. In both organs, the calculated protein expression of all subunits was much larger than that required to account for maximal Na+ currents measured in these cells, implying a large excess of subunit protein. Whole-kidney biotinylation indicated that at least 5% of β and γ subunits in the kidney and 3% in the colon were expressed on the surface under conditions of salt restriction, which maximizes ENaC-dependent Na+ transport. This indicates a 10- to 100-fold excess of βENaC and γENaC subunits at the surface relative to the requirement for channel activity. We conclude that these epithelia make much more ENaC protein than is required for the physiological function of the channel. This could facilitate rapid regulation of the channels at the cell surface by insuring a large population of inactive, recruitable subunits.

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