PloS one

Expression and activity of acid-sensing ion channels in the mouse anterior pituitary.

PMID 25506946


Acid sensing ion channels (ASICs) are proton-gated cation channels that are expressed in the nervous system and play an important role in fear learning and memory. The function of ASICs in the pituitary, an endocrine gland that contributes to emotions, is unknown. We sought to investigate which ASIC subunits were present in the pituitary and found mRNA expression for all ASIC isoforms, including ASIC1a, ASIC1b, ASIC2a, ASIC2b, ASIC3 and ASIC4. We also observed acid-evoked ASIC-like currents in isolated anterior pituitary cells that were absent in mice lacking ASIC1a. The biophysical properties and the responses to PcTx1, amiloride, Ca2+ and Zn2+ suggested that ASIC currents were mediated predominantly by heteromultimeric channels that contained ASIC1a and ASIC2a or ASIC2b. ASIC currents were also sensitive to FMRFamide (Phe-Met-Arg-Phe amide), suggesting that FMRFamide-like compounds might endogenously regulate pituitary ASICs. To determine whether ASICs might regulate pituitary cell function, we applied low pH and found that it increased the intracellular Ca2+ concentration. These data suggest that ASIC channels are present and functionally active in anterior pituitary cells and may therefore influence their function.