Neurochemical research

SRC tyrosine kinases regulate neuronal differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells via modulation of voltage-gated sodium channel activity.

PMID 25577147


Voltage-gated Na(+) channel activity is vital for the proper function of excitable cells and has been indicated in nervous system development. Meanwhile, the Src family of non-receptor tyrosine kinases (SFKs) has been implicated in the regulation of Na(+) channel activity. The present investigation tests the hypothesis that Src family kinases influence neuronal differentiation via a chronic regulation of Na(+) channel functionality. In cultured mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells undergoing neural induction and terminal neuronal differentiation, SFKs showed distinct stage-specific expression patterns during the differentiation process. ES cell-derived neuronal cells expressed multiple voltage-gated Na(+) channel proteins (Nav) and underwent a gradual increase in Na(+) channel activity. While acute inhibition of SFKs using the Src family inhibitor PP2 suppressed the Na(+) current, chronic inhibition of SFKs during early neuronal differentiation of ES cells did not change Nav expression. However, a long-lasting block of SFK significantly altered electrophysiological properties of the Na(+) channels, shown as a right shift of the current-voltage relationship of the Na(+) channels, and reduced the amplitude of Na(+) currents recorded in drug-free solutions. Immunocytochemical staining of differentiated cells subjected to the chronic exposure of a SFK inhibitor, or the Na(+) channel blocker tetrodotoxin, showed no changes in the number of NeuN-positive cells; however, both treatments significantly hindered neurite outgrowth. These findings suggest that SFKs not only modulate the Na(+) channel activation acutely, but the tonic activity of SFKs is also critical for normal development of functional Na(+) channels and neuronal differentiation or maturation of ES cells.