The neuronal voltage-gated sodium channel, Scn8a, is essential for postnatal maturation of spinal, but not oculomotor, motor units.Exp Neurol. 1996 Jun; 139(2):328-34.EN
Mice with a nontargeted transgene insertion at the motor endplate disease (med) locus (med(tg)) contain a deletion of a novel gene encoding a neuronal voltage-gated sodium channel, designated Scn8a. We characterized severe skeletal muscle atrophy beginning by Postnatal Day 10 (P10) and death by P20 in the med(tg) mouse. Denervation was functional, rather than structural, since the Scn8a mutation was not accompanied by retraction of neuromuscular contacts, motoneuron death, or decreased motoneuron soma diameter. Although pathology consistent with denervation was seen in both hindlimb and forelimb musculature, the postnatal maturation of the extraocular muscles was not altered. The onset of paralysis is likely coincident with the time that the Scn8a sodium channel normally assumes a critical role in the initiation and/or propagation of action potentials in spinal motoneurons. By contrast, the lack of consequences for extraocular muscle suggests that the Scn8a voltage-gated sodium channel may be of relatively minor importance for oculomotor motoneurons.