High grade gliomas such as glioblastoma multiforme express multiple members of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC)/Degenerin family, characteristically displaying a basally active amiloride-sensitive cation current not seen in normal human astrocytes or lower grade gliomas. Using quantitative real time PCR, we have shown higher expression of ASIC1, alphaENaC, and gammaENaC in D54-MG human glioblastoma multiforme cells compared with primary human astrocytes. We hypothesize that this glioma current is mediated by a hybrid channel composed of a mixture of ENaC and acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC) subunits. To test this hypothesis we made dominant negative cDNAs for ASIC1, alphaENaC, gammaENaC, and deltaENaC. D54-MG cells transfected with the dominant negative constructs for ASIC1, alphaENaC, or gammaENaC showed reduced protein expression and a significant reduction in the amiloride-sensitive whole cell current as compared with untransfected D54-MG cells. Knocking down alphaENaC or gammaENaC also abolished the high P(K)(+)/P(Na)(+) of D54-MG cells. Knocking down deltaENaC in D54-MG cells reduced deltaENaC protein expression but had no effect on either the whole cell current or K(+) permeability. Using co-immunoprecipitation we show interactions between ASIC1, alphaENaC, and gammaENaC, consistent with these subunits interacting with each other to form an ion channel in glioma cells. We also found a significant inhibition of D54-MG cell migration after ASIC1, alphaENaC, or gammaENaC knockdown, consistent with the hypothesis that ENaC/Degenerin subunits play an important role in glioma cell biology.