Voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels produce the upstroke of action potentials in excitable tissues throughout the body. The gating of these channels is determined by the asynchronous movements of four voltage-sensing domains (VSDs). Past studies on the skeletal muscle Nav1.4 channel have indicated that VSD-I, -II, and -III are sufficient for pore opening, whereas VSD-IV movement is sufficient for channel inactivation. Here, we studied the cardiac sodium channel, Nav1.5, using charge-neutralizing mutations and voltage-clamp fluorometry. Our results reveal that both VSD-III and -IV are necessary for Nav1.5 inactivation, and that steady-state inactivation can be modulated by all VSDs. We also demonstrate that channel activation is partially determined by VSD-IV movement. Kinetic modeling suggests that these observations can be explained from the cardiac channel’s propensity to enter closed-state inactivation (CSI), which is significantly higher than that of other Nav channels. We show that skeletal muscle Nav1.4, cardiac Nav1.5, and neuronal Nav1.6 all have different propensities for CSI and postulate that these differences produce isoform-dependent roles for the four VSDs.

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