We previously reported the presence of a novel variant (beta-T594M) of the amiloride-sensitive Na+ channel (ASSC) in which the threonine residue at position 594 in the beta-subunit has been replaced by a methionine residue. Electrophysiological studies of the ASSC on Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-transformed lymphocytes carrying this variant showed that the 8-(4-chlorophenylthio) adenosine 3':5'-cyclic monophosphate (8cpt-cAMP)-induced responses were enhanced when compared to wild-type EBV-transformed lymphocytes. Furthermore, in wild-type EBV-transformed cells, the 8cpt-cAMP-induced response was totally blocked by the phorbol ester, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA). This inhibitory effect of PMA was blocked by a protein kinase C inhibitor, chelerythrine. We now have identified individuals who are homozygous for this variant, and showed that PMA had no effect on the 8cpt-cAMP-induced responses in the EBV-transformed lymphocytes from such individuals. Cells heterozygous for this variant showed mixed responses to PMA, with the majority of cells partially inhibited by PMA. Our results demonstrate that an alteration in a single amino acid residue in the beta-subunit of the ASSC can lead to a total loss of inhibition to PMA, and establish the beta-subunit as having an important role in conferring a regulatory effect on the ASSC of lymphocytes.