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1.  The sodium channel Nav1.5a is the predominant isoform expressed in adult mouse dorsal root ganglia and exhibits distinct inactivation properties from the full-length Nav1.5 channel 
Nav1.5 is the principal voltage-gated sodium channel expressed in heart, and is also expressed at lower abundance in embryonic dorsal root ganglia (DRG) with little or no expression reported postnatally. We report here the expression of Nav1.5 mRNA isoforms in adult mouse and rat DRG. The major isoform of mouse DRG is Nav1.5a, which encodes a protein with an IDII/III cytoplasmic loop reduced by 53 amino acids. Western blot analysis of adult mouse DRG membrane proteins confirmed the expression of Nav1.5 protein. The Na+ current produced by the Nav1.5a isoform has a voltage-dependent inactivation significantly shifted to more negative potentials (by ~5 mV) compared to the full-length Nav1.5 when expressed in the DRG neuroblastoma cell line ND7/23. These results imply that the alternatively spliced exon 18 of Nav1.5 plays a role in channel inactivation and that Nav1.5a is likely to make a significant contribution to adult DRG neuronal function.
PMCID: PMC2726334  PMID: 17433712
2.  Novel Isoforms of the Sodium Channels Nav1.8 and Nav1.5 Are Produced by a Conserved Mechanism in Mouse and Rat* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2004;279(23):24826-24833.
The voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.8 is only expressed in subsets of neurons in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and trigeminal and nodose ganglia. We have isolated mouse partial length Nav1.8 cDNA clones spanning the exon 17 sequence, which have 17 nucleotide substitutions and 12 predicted amino acid differences from the published sequence. The absence of a mutually exclusive alternative exon 17 was confirmed by sequencing 4.1 kilobases of genomic DNA spanning exons 16–18 of Scn10a. A novel cDNA isoform was identified, designated Nav1.8c, which results from alternative 3′-splice site selection at a CAG/CAG motif to exclude the codon for glutamine 1031 within the interdomain cytoplasmic loop IDII/III. The ratio of Nav1.8c (CAG-skipped) to Nav1.8 (CAG-inclusive) mRNA in mouse is ~2:1 in adult DRG, trigeminal ganglion, and neonatal DRG. A Nav1.8c isoform also occurs in rat DRG, but is less common. Of the two other tetrodotoxin-resistant channels, no analogous alternative splicing of mouse Nav1.9 was detected, whereas rare alternative splicing of Nav1.5 at a CAG/CAG motif resulted in the introduction of a CAG trinucleotide. This isoform, designated Nav1.5c, is conserved in rat and encodes an additional glutamine residue that disrupts a putative CK2 phosphorylation site. In summary, novel isoforms of Nav1.8 and Nav1.5 are each generated by alternative splicing at CAG/CAG motifs, which result in the absence or presence of predicted glutamine residues within the interdomain cytoplasmic loop IDII/III. Mutations of sodium channels within this cytoplasmic loop have previously been demonstrated to alter electrophysiological properties and cause cardiac arrhythmias and epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC2726572  PMID: 15047701
3.  Isoflurane Inhibits the Tetrodotoxin-resistant Voltagegated Sodium Channel Nav1.8 
Anesthesiology  2009;111(3):591-599.
Voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav) mediate neuronal action potentials. Tetrodotoxin inhibits all Nav isoforms, but Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 are relatively tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-r) compared to other isoforms. Nav1.8 is highly expressed in dorsal root ganglion neurons and is functionally linked to nociception, but the sensitivity of TTX-r isoforms to inhaled anesthetics is unclear.
The sensitivities of heterologously expressed rat TTX-r Nav1.8 and endogenous tetrodotoxin-sensitive (TTX-s) Nav to the prototypic inhaled anesthetic isoflurane were tested in mammalian ND7/23 cells using patch-clamp electrophysiology.
From a holding potential of −70 mV, isoflurane (0.53±0.06 mM, ~1.8 MAC at 24°C) reduced normalized peak Na+ current (INa) of Nav1.8 to 0.55±0.03 and of endogenous TTX-s Nav to 0.56±0.06. Isoflurane minimally inhibited INa from a holding potential of −140 mV. Isoflurane did not affect voltage-dependence of activation, but significantly shifted voltage-dependence of steady-state inactivation by −6 mV for Nav1.8 and by −7 mV for TTX-s Nav. IC50 values for inhibition of peak INa were 0.67±0.06 mM for Nav1.8 and 0.66±0.09 mM for TTX-s Nav; significant inhibition occurred at clinically relevant concentrations as low as 0.58 MAC. Isoflurane produced use-dependent block of Nav1.8; at a stimulation frequency of 10 Hz, 0.56±0.08 mM isoflurane reduced INa to 0.64±0.01 vs. 0.78±0.01 for control.
Isoflurane inhibited the tetrodotoxin-resistant isoform Nav1.8 with potency comparable to that for endogenous tetrodotoxin-sensitive Nav isoforms, indicating that sensitivity to inhaled anesthetics is conserved across diverse Nav family members. Block of Nav1.8 in dorsal root ganglion neurons could contribute to the effects of inhaled anesthetics on peripheral nociceptive mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2756082  PMID: 19672182
4.  Single-cell analysis of sodium channel expression in dorsal root ganglion neurons 
Sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) express multiple voltage-gated sodium (Na) channels that substantially differ in gating kinetics and pharmacology. Small-diameter (<25 µm) neurons isolated from the rat DRG express a combination of fast tetrodotoxin-sensitive (TTX-S) and slow TTX-resistant (TTX-R) Na currents while large-diameter neurons (>30 µm) predominately express fast TTX-S Na current. Na channel expression was further investigated using single-cell RT-PCR to measure the transcripts present in individually harvested DRG neurons. Consistent with cellular electrophysiology, the small neurons expressed transcripts encoding for both TTX-S (Nav1.1, Nav1.2, Nav1.6, Nav1.7) and TTX-R (Nav1.8, Nav1.9) Na channels. Nav1.7, Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 were the predominant Na channels expressed in the small neurons. The large neurons highly expressed TTX-S isoforms (Nav1.1, Nav1.6, Nav1.7) while TTX-R channels were present at comparatively low levels. A unique subpopulation of the large neurons was identified that expressed TTX-R Na current and high levels of Nav1.8 transcript. DRG neurons also displayed substantial differences in the expression of neurofilaments (NF200, peripherin) and Necl-1, a neuronal adhesion molecule involved in myelination. The preferential expression of NF200 and Necl-1 suggests that large-diameter neurons give rise to thick myelinated axons. Small-diameter neurons expressed peripherin, but reduced levels of NF200 and Necl-1, a pattern more consistent with thin unmyelinated axons. Single-cell analysis of Na channel transcripts indicates that TTX-S and TTX-R Na channels are differentially expressed in large myelinated (Nav1.1, Nav1.6, Nav1.7) and small unmyelinated (Nav1.7, Nav1.8, Nav1.9) sensory neurons.
PMCID: PMC3005531  PMID: 20816971
Sodium channel; dorsal root ganglia; single-cell RT-PCR; Necl-1; NF200; peripherin
5.  Dysregulation of voltage-gated sodium channels by ubiquitin ligase NEDD4-2 in neuropathic pain 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(7):3002-3013.
Peripheral neuropathic pain is a disabling condition resulting from nerve injury. It is characterized by the dysregulation of voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs) expressed in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) sensory neurons. The mechanisms underlying the altered expression of Navs remain unknown. This study investigated the role of the E3 ubiquitin ligase NEDD4-2, which is known to ubiquitylate Navs, in the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain in mice. The spared nerve injury (SNI) model of traumatic nerve injury–induced neuropathic pain was used, and an Nav1.7-specific inhibitor, ProTxII, allowed the isolation of Nav1.7-mediated currents. SNI decreased NEDD4-2 expression in DRG cells and increased the amplitude of Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 currents. The redistribution of Nav1.7 channels toward peripheral axons was also observed. Similar changes were observed in the nociceptive DRG neurons of Nedd4L knockout mice (SNS-Nedd4L–/–). SNS-Nedd4L–/– mice exhibited thermal hypersensitivity and an enhanced second pain phase after formalin injection. Restoration of NEDD4-2 expression in DRG neurons using recombinant adenoassociated virus (rAAV2/6) not only reduced Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 current amplitudes, but also alleviated SNI-induced mechanical allodynia. These findings demonstrate that NEDD4-2 is a potent posttranslational regulator of Navs and that downregulation of NEDD4-2 leads to the hyperexcitability of DRG neurons and contributes to the genesis of pathological pain.
PMCID: PMC3696561  PMID: 23778145
6.  Reduction of voltage gated sodium channel protein in DRG by vector mediated miRNA reduces pain in rats with painful diabetic neuropathy 
Molecular Pain  2012;8:17.
Painful neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes. Previous studies have identified significant increases in the amount of voltage gated sodium channel isoforms NaV1.7 and NaV1.3 protein in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of rats with streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes. We found that gene transfer-mediated release of the inhibitory neurotransmitters enkephalin or gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) from DRG neurons in diabetic animals reduced pain-related behaviors coincident with a reduction in NaV1.7 protein levels in DRG in vivo. To further evaluate the role of NaVα subunit levels in DRG in the pathogenesis of pain in diabetic neuropathy, we constructed a non-replicating herpes simplex virus (HSV)-based vector expressing a microRNA (miRNA) against NaVα subunits.
Subcutaneous inoculation of the miRNA-expressing HSV vector into the feet of diabetic rats to transduce DRG resulted in a reduction in NaVα subunit levels in DRG neurons, coincident with a reduction in cold allodynia, thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical hyperalgesia.
These data support the role of increased NaVα protein in DRG in the pathogenesis of pain in diabetic neuropathy, and provide a proof-of-principle demonstration for the development of a novel therapy that could be used to treat intractable pain in patients with diabetic neuropathy.
PMCID: PMC3388457  PMID: 22439790
Diabetes; Pain; Neuropathy; Gene therapy; Sodium channel
7.  Electroacupuncture Reduces Carrageenan- and CFA-Induced Inflammatory Pain Accompanied by Changing the Expression of Nav1.7 and Nav1.8, rather than Nav1.9, in Mice Dorsal Root Ganglia 
Several voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs) from nociceptive nerve fibers have been identified as important effectors in pain signaling. The objective of this study is to investigate the electroacupuncture (EA) analgesia mechanism by changing the expression of Navs in mice dorsal root ganglia (DRG). We injected carrageenan and complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) into the mice plantar surface of the hind paw to induce inflammation and examined the antinociception effect of EA at the Zusanli (ST36) acupoint at 2 Hz low frequency. Mechanical hyperalgesia was evaluated by using electronic von Frey filaments, and thermal hyperalgesia was assessed using Hargreaves' test. Furthermore, we observed the expression and quality of Navs in DRG neurons. Our results showed that EA reduced mechanical and thermal pain in inflammatory animal model. The expression of Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 was increased after 4 days of carrageenan- and CFA-elicited inflammatory pain and further attenuated by 2 Hz EA stimulation. The attenuation cannot be observed in Nav1.9 sodium channels. We demonstrated that EA at Zusanli (ST36) acupoint at 2 Hz low-frequency stimulation attenuated inflammatory pain accompanied by decreasing the expression of Nav1.7 and 1.8, rather than Nav1.9, sodium channels in peripheral DRG neurons.
PMCID: PMC3615619  PMID: 23573123
8.  Phyla- and Subtype-Selectivity of CgNa, a Na+ Channel Toxin from the Venom of the Giant Caribbean Sea Anemone Condylactis Gigantea 
Because of their prominent role in electro-excitability, voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels have become the foremost important target of animal toxins. These toxins have developed the ability to discriminate between closely related NaV subtypes, making them powerful tools to study NaV channel function and structure. CgNa is a 47-amino acid residue type I toxin isolated from the venom of the Giant Caribbean Sea Anemone Condylactis gigantea. Previous studies showed that this toxin slows the fast inactivation of tetrodotoxin-sensitive NaV currents in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons. To illuminate the underlying NaV subtype-selectivity pattern, we have assayed the effects of CgNa on a broad range of mammalian isoforms (NaV1.2–NaV1.8) expressed in Xenopus oocytes. This study demonstrates that CgNa selectively slows the fast inactivation of rNaV1.3/β1, mNaV1.6/β1 and, to a lesser extent, hNaV1.5/β1, while the other mammalian isoforms remain unaffected. Importantly, CgNa was also examined on the insect sodium channel DmNaV1/tipE, revealing a clear phyla-selectivity in the efficacious actions of the toxin. CgNa strongly inhibits the inactivation of the insect NaV channel, resulting in a dramatic increase in peak current amplitude and complete removal of fast and steady-state inactivation. Together with the previously determined solution structure, the subtype-selective effects revealed in this study make of CgNa an interesting pharmacological probe to investigate the functional role of specific NaV channel subtypes. Moreover, further structural studies could provide important information on the molecular mechanism of NaV channel inactivation.
PMCID: PMC3153007  PMID: 21833172
sea anemone; toxin; inactivation; sodium channel; subtype; selectivity
9.  Neurotrophin-3 significantly reduces sodium channel expression linked to neuropathic pain states 
Experimental neurology  2008;213(2):303-314.
Neuropathic pain resulting from chronic constriction injury (CCI) is critically linked to sensitization of peripheral nociceptors. Voltage gated sodium channels are major contributors to this state and their expression can be upregulated by nerve growth factor (NGF). We have previously demonstrated that neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) acts antagonistically to NGF in modulation of aspects of CCI-induced changes in trkA-associated nociceptor phenotype and thermal hyperalgesia. Thus, we hypothesized that exposure of neurons to increased levels of NT-3 would reduce expression of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 in DRG neurons subject to CCI. In adult male rats, Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 mRNAs are expressed at high levels in predominantly small to medium size neurons. One week following CCI, there is reduced incidence of neurons expressing detectable Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 mRNA, but without a significant decline in mean level of neuronal expression, and similar findings observed immunohistochemically. There is also increased accumulation/redistribution of channel protein in the nerve most apparent proximal to the first constriction site. Intrathecal infusion of NT-3 significantly attenuates neuronal expression of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 mRNA contralateral and most notably, ipsilateral to CCI, with a similar impact on relative protein expression at the level of the neuron and constricted nerve. We also observe reduced expression of the common neurotrophin receptor p75 in response to CCI that is not reversed by NT-3 in small to medium sized neurons and may confer an enhanced ability of NT-3 to signal via trkA, as has been previously shown in other cell types. These findings are consistent with an analgesic role for NT-3.
PMCID: PMC2751854  PMID: 18601922
Nav1.8; Nav1.9; DRG; sciatic nerve; CCI; nociceptor; nerve growth factor
10.  Expression of sodium channels Nav1.2 and Nav1.6 during postnatal development of the retina 
Neuroscience letters  2006;403(3):315-317.
During the second and third postnatal weeks, there is a developmental switch from sodium channel isoform Nav1.2 to isoform Nav1.6 at initial segments and nodes of Ranvier in rat retinal ganglion cells. We used quantitative, real-time PCR to determine if the developmental appearance of Nav1.6 channels is accompanied by an increase in steady-state level of Nav1.6 mRNA in the retina. Between postnatal day 2 (P2) and P10, Nav1.6 levels did not change, but between P10 and P19, there was an approximately 3-fold increase in Nav1.6 transcript levels. This coincides with the appearance of Nav1.6 channels in the retina and optic nerve. The steady-state level of Nav1.2 mRNA also increased during this same period, which suggests that the rise in Nav1.6 may be part of a general increase in sodium channel transcripts at about the time of eye-opening at P14. The results are consistent with a developmental increase in steady-state transcripts giving rise to a corresponding increase in sodium channel protein expression.
PMCID: PMC1819474  PMID: 16753259
retinal ganglion cell; sodium channels; quantitative PCR; axon initial segment; retina development
Journal of proteome research  2012;11(12):5994-6007.
Cardiac voltage-gated Na+ (Nav) channels are key determinants of action potential waveforms, refractoriness and propagation, and Nav1.5 is the main Nav pore-forming (α) subunit in the mammalian heart. Although direct phosphorylation of the Nav1.5 protein has been suggested to modulate various aspects of Nav channel physiology and pathophysiology, native Nav1.5 phosphorylation sites have not been identified. In the experiments here, a mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomic approach was developed to identify native Nav1.5 phosphorylation sites directly. Using an anti-NavPAN antibody, Nav channel complexes were immunoprecipitated from adult mouse cardiac ventricles. The MS analyses revealed that this antibody immunoprecipitates several Nav α subunits in addition to Nav1.5, as well as several previously identified Nav channel associated/regulatory proteins. Label-free comparative and data-driven phosphoproteomic analyses of purified cardiac Nav1.5 protein identified 11 phosphorylation sites, 8 of which are novel. All the phosphorylation sites identified except one in the N-terminus are in the first intracellular linker loop, suggesting critical roles for this region in phosphorylation-dependent cardiac Nav channel regulation. Interestingly, commonly used prediction algorithms did not reliably predict these newly identified in situ phosphorylation sites. Taken together, the results presented provide the first in situ map of basal phosphorylation sites on the mouse cardiac Nav1.5 α subunit.
PMCID: PMC3518584  PMID: 23092124
Nav1.5 Channels; Heart; Native Phosphorylations; Mass Spectrometric Identifications; Label-free Comparative and Data-driven LC-MS/MS Analyses
12.  Identification of the Sensory Neuron Specific Regulatory Region for the Mouse Gene Encoding the Voltage Gated Sodium Channel Nav1.8 
Journal of neurochemistry  2008;106(3):1209-1224.
Voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSC) are critical membrane components that participate in the electrical activity of excitable cells. The type one VGSC family includes the tetrodotoxin insensitive sodium channel, Nav1.8, encoded by the Scn10a gene. Nav1.8 expression is restricted to small and medium diameter nociceptive sensory neurons of the dorsal root (DRG) and cranial sensory ganglia. In order to understand the stringent transcriptional regulation of the Scn10a gene, the sensory neuron specific promoter was functionally identified. While identifying the mRNA 5’ end, alternative splicing within the 5’ UTR was observed to create heterogeneity in the RNA transcript. Four kilobases of upstream genomic DNA was cloned and the presence of tissue specific promoter activity was tested by microinjection and adenoviral infection of fluorescent protein reporter constructs into primary mouse and rat neurons, and cell lines. The region contained many putative transcription factor binding sites and strong homology with the predicted rat ortholog. Homology to the predicted human ortholog was limited to the proximal end and several conserved cis elements were noted. Two regulatory modules were identified by microinjection of reporter constructs into DRG and superior cervical ganglia neurons: a neuron specific proximal promoter region between −1.6 and −0.2kb of the transcription start site cluster, and a distal sensory neuron switch region beyond −1.6kb that restricted fluorescent protein expression to a subset of primary sensory neurons.
PMCID: PMC2562579  PMID: 18466327
tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channel; pain; promoter; sensory neuron
13.  Regulation of the Spontaneous Augmentation of NaV1.9 in Mouse Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons: Effect of PKA and PKC Pathways 
Marine Drugs  2010;8(3):728-740.
Sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglion express two kinds of tetrodotoxin resistant (TTX-R) isoforms of voltage-gated sodium channels, NaV1.8 and NaV1.9. These isoforms play key roles in the pathophysiology of chronic pain. Of special interest is NaV1.9: our previous studies revealed a unique property of the NaV1.9 current, i.e., the NaV1.9 current shows a gradual and notable up-regulation of the peak amplitude during recording (“spontaneous augmentation of NaV1.9”). However, the mechanism underlying the spontaneous augmentation of NaV1.9 is still unclear. In this study, we examined the effects of protein kinases A and C (PKA and PKC), on the spontaneous augmentation of NaV1.9. The spontaneous augmentation of the NaV1.9 current was significantly suppressed by activation of PKA, whereas activation of PKA did not affect the voltage dependence of inactivation for the NaV1.9 current. On the contrary, the finding that activation of PKC can affect the voltage dependence of inactivation for NaV1.9 in the perforated patch recordings, where the augmentation does not occur, suggests that the effects of PMA are independent of the augmentation process. These results indicate that the spontaneous augmentation of NaV1.9 was regulated directly by PKA, and indirectly by PKC.
PMCID: PMC2857352  PMID: 20411123
Na+ channel; tetrodotoxin; dorsal root ganglion; patch clamp; PKA; PKC
14.  Alternative Splicing of the Cardiac Sodium Channel Creates Multiple Variants of Mutant T1620K Channels 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19188.
Alternative splicing creates several Nav1.5 transcripts in the mammalian myocardium and in various other tissues including brain, dorsal root ganglia, breast cancer cells as well as neuronal stem cell lines. In total nine Nav1.5 splice variants have been discovered. Four of them, namely Nav1.5a, Nav1.5c, Nav1.5d, and Nav1.5e, generate functional channels in heterologous expression systems. The significance of alternatively spliced transcripts for cardiac excitation, in particular their role in SCN5A channelopathies, is less well understood. In the present study, we systematically investigated electrophysiological properties of mutant T1620K channels in the background of all known functional Nav1.5 splice variants in HEK293 cells. This mutation has been previously associated with two distinct cardiac excitation disorders: with long QT syndrome type 3 (LQT3) and isolated cardiac conduction disease (CCD). When investigating the effect of the T1620K mutation, we noticed similar channel defects in the background of hNav1.5, hNav1.5a, and hNav1.5c. In contrast, the hNav1.5d background produced differential effects: In the mutant channel, some gain-of-function features did not emerge, whereas loss-of-function became more pronounced. In case of hNav1.5e, the neonatal variant of hNav1.5, both the splice variant itself as well as the corresponding mutant channel showed electrophysiological properties that were distinct from the wild-type and mutant reference channels, hNav1.5 and T1620K, respectively. In conclusion, our data show that alternative splicing is a mechanism capable of generating a variety of functionally distinct wild-type and mutant hNav1.5 channels. Thus, the cellular splicing machinery is a potential player affecting genotype-phenotype correlations in SCN5A channelopathies.
PMCID: PMC3084281  PMID: 21552533
15.  Nav1.7 is the predominant sodium channel in rodent olfactory sensory neurons 
Molecular Pain  2011;7:32.
Voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.7 is preferentially expressed in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and sympathetic neurons within the peripheral nervous system. Homozygous or compound heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in SCN9A, the gene which encodes Nav1.7, cause congenital insensitivity to pain (CIP) accompanied by anosmia. Global knock-out of Nav1.7 in mice is neonatal lethal reportedly from starvation, suggesting anosmia. These findings led us to hypothesize that Nav1.7 is the main sodium channel in the peripheral olfactory sensory neurons (OSN, also known as olfactory receptor neurons).
We used multiplex PCR-restriction enzyme polymorphism, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry to determine the identity of sodium channels in rodent OSNs.
We show here that Nav1.7 is the predominant sodium channel transcript, with low abundance of other sodium channel transcripts, in olfactory epithelium from rat and mouse. Our in situ hybridization data show that Nav1.7 transcripts are present in rat OSNs. Immunostaining of Nav1.7 and Nav1.6 channels in rat shows a complementary accumulation pattern with Nav1.7 in peripheral presynaptic OSN axons, and Nav1.6 primarily in postsynaptic cells and their dendrites in the glomeruli of the olfactory bulb within the central nervous system.
Our data show that Nav1.7 is the dominant sodium channel in rat and mouse OSN, and may explain anosmia in Nav1.7 null mouse and patients with Nav1.7-related CIP.
PMCID: PMC3101130  PMID: 21569247
16.  Transcriptional Expression of Voltage-gated Na+ and Voltage-independent K+ Channels in the Developing Rat Superficial Dorsal Horn 
Neuroscience  2012;231:305-314.
Neurons within the superficial dorsal horn (SDH) of the rodent spinal cord exhibit distinct firing properties during early life. While this may reflect a unique combination of voltage-gated Na+ (Nav) and voltage-independent (i.e. “leak”) K+ channels which strongly influence neuronal excitability across the CNS, surprisingly little is known about which genes encoding for Nav and leak K+ channels are expressed within developing spinal pain circuits. The goal of the present study was therefore to characterize the transcriptional expression of these channels within the rat SDH at postnatal days (P)3, 10, 21 or adulthood using quantitative PCR (qPCR). The results demonstrate that Nav isoforms are developmentally regulated at the mRNA level in a subtype-specific manner, as Nav1.2 and Nav1.3 decreased significantly from P3 to adulthood, while Nav1.1 was up-regulated during this period. The data also indicate selective, age-dependent changes in the mRNA expression of two-pore domain (K2P) K+ channels, as TASK-1 (KCNK3) and TASK-3 (KCNK9) were down-regulated during postnatal development in the absence of any changes in the TWIK isoforms examined (KCNK1 and KCNK6). In addition, a developmental shift occurred within the TREK subfamily due to decreased TREK-2 (KCNK10) mRNA within the mature SDH. Meanwhile, G-protein-coupled inward rectifying K+ channels (Kir3.1 and Kir3.2) were expressed in the SDH at mature levels from birth. Overall, the results suggest that the transcription of ion channel genes occurs in a highly age-dependent manner within the SDH, raising the possibility that manipulating the expression or function of ion channels which are preferentially expressed within immature nociceptive networks could yield novel approaches to relieving pain in infants and children.
PMCID: PMC3563431  PMID: 23219908
spinal cord; two-pore-domain K+ channels; quantitative PCR; neonatal; development; sodium channel
17.  NaV1.8 channels are expressed in large, as well as small, diameter sensory afferent neurons 
Channels  2013;7(1):34-37.
Sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) express a subset of voltage dependent sodium channels (NaV) including NaV1.1, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8 and 1.9. Previous work supported preferential localization of NaV1.8 channels to small-medium diameter, nociceptive afferent neurons. However, we recently published evidence that NaV1.8 was the dominant NaV channel expressed in the somas of small, medium and large diameter muscle afferent neurons, which is consistent with other reports. Here, we extend those results to show that NaV1.8 expression is not correlated with afferent neuron diameter. Using immunocytochemistry, we found NaV1.8 expression in ~50% of sensory afferent neurons with diameters ranging from 20 to 70 µm. In addition, electrophysiological analysis shows that the kinetic and inactivation properties of NaV1.8 current are invariant with neuron size. These data add further support to the idea that NaV1.8 contributes to the electrical excitability of both nociceptive and non-nociceptive sensory neurons.
PMCID: PMC3589279  PMID: 23064159
cutaneous afferents; muscle afferents; dorsal root ganglia neurons; Tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-R)
18.  Activity-dependent alternative splicing increases persistent sodium current and promotes seizure 
Activity of voltage-gated Na channels (Nav) is modified by alternative splicing. However, whether altered splicing of human Nav’s contributes to epilepsy remains to be conclusively shown. We show here that altered splicing of the Drosophila Nav (paralytic, DmNav) contributes to seizure-like behaviour in identified seizure-mutants. We focus attention on a pair of mutually-exclusive alternate exons (termed K and L), which form part of the voltage sensor (S4) in domain III of the expressed channel. The presence of exon L results in a large, non-inactivating, persistent INap. Many forms of human epilepsy are associated with an increase in this current. In wildtype (WT) Drosophila larvae ~70-80% of DmNav transcripts contain exon L, the remainder contain exon K. Splicing of DmNav to include exon L is increased to ~100% in both the slamdance and easily-shocked seizure-mutants. This change to splicing is prevented by reducing synaptic activity levels through exposure to the antiepileptic phenytoin or the inhibitory transmitter GABA. Conversely, enhancing synaptic activity in WT, by feeding of picrotoxin, is sufficient to increase INap and promote seizure through increased inclusion of exon L to 100%. We also show that the underlying activity-dependent mechanism requires the presence of Pasilla, an RNA-binding protein. Finally, we use computational modelling to show that increasing INap is sufficient to potentiate membrane excitability consistent with a seizure phenotype. Thus, increased synaptic excitation favors inclusion of exon L which, in turn, further increases neuronal excitability. Thus, at least in Drosophila, this self-reinforcing cycle may promote the incidence of seizure.
PMCID: PMC3400946  PMID: 22623672
Drosophila; Paralytic; voltage-gated sodium channel; motoneuron; splicing; neural circuit
19.  Sodium channels and mammalian sensory mechanotransduction 
Molecular Pain  2012;8:21.
Members of the degenerin/epithelial (DEG/ENaC) sodium channel family are mechanosensors in C elegans, and Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 voltage-gated sodium channel knockout mice have major deficits in mechanosensation. β and γENaC sodium channel subunits are present with acid sensing ion channels (ASICs) in mammalian sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG). The extent to which epithelial or voltage-gated sodium channels are involved in transduction of mechanical stimuli is unclear.
Here we show that deleting β and γENaC sodium channels in sensory neurons does not result in mechanosensory behavioural deficits. We had shown previously that Nav1.7/Nav1.8 double knockout mice have major deficits in behavioural responses to noxious mechanical pressure. However, all classes of mechanically activated currents in DRG neurons are unaffected by deletion of the two sodium channels. In contrast, the ability of Nav1.7/Nav1.8 knockout DRG neurons to generate action potentials is compromised with 50% of the small diameter sensory neurons unable to respond to electrical stimulation in vitro.
Behavioural deficits in Nav1.7/Nav1.8 knockout mice reflects a failure of action potential propagation in a mechanosensitive set of sensory neurons rather than a loss of primary transduction currents. DEG/ENaC sodium channels are not mechanosensors in mouse sensory neurons.
PMCID: PMC3378430  PMID: 22449024
Mechanotransduction; Sodium channels; Pain; Nav1.7; Nav1.8; ENaCs
20.  New Insights in the Contribution of Voltage-Gated Nav Channels to Rat Aorta Contraction 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7360.
Despite increasing evidence for the presence of voltage-gated Na+ channels (Nav) isoforms and measurements of Nav channel currents with the patch-clamp technique in arterial myocytes, no information is available to date as to whether or not Nav channels play a functional role in arteries. The aim of the present work was to look for a physiological role of Nav channels in the control of rat aortic contraction.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Nav channels were detected in the aortic media by Western blot analysis and double immunofluorescence labeling for Nav channels and smooth muscle α-actin using specific antibodies. In parallel, using real time RT-PCR, we identified three Nav transcripts: Nav1.2, Nav1.3, and Nav1.5. Only the Nav1.2 isoform was found in the intact media and in freshly isolated myocytes excluding contamination by other cell types. Using the specific Nav channel agonist veratridine and antagonist tetrodotoxin (TTX), we unmasked a contribution of these channels in the response to the depolarizing agent KCl on rat aortic isometric tension recorded from endothelium-denuded aortic rings. Experimental conditions excluded a contribution of Nav channels from the perivascular sympathetic nerve terminals. Addition of low concentrations of KCl (2–10 mM), which induced moderate membrane depolarization (e.g., from −55.9±1.4 mV to −45.9±1.2 mV at 10 mmol/L as measured with microelectrodes), triggered a contraction potentiated by veratridine (100 µM) and blocked by TTX (1 µM). KB-R7943, an inhibitor of the reverse mode of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, mimicked the effect of TTX and had no additive effect in presence of TTX.
These results define a new role for Nav channels in arterial physiology, and suggest that the TTX-sensitive Nav1.2 isoform, together with the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, contributes to the contractile response of aortic myocytes at physiological range of membrane depolarization.
PMCID: PMC2752992  PMID: 19809503
21.  Multi-site Phosphorylation of Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel α Subunits from Rat Brain 
Journal of proteome research  2010;9(4):1976-1984.
Reversible phosphorylation of ion channels underlies cellular plasticity in mammalian neurons. Voltage-gated sodium or Nav channels underlie action potential initiation and propagation, dendritic excitability, and many other aspects of neuronal excitability. Various protein kinases have been suggested to phosphorylate the primary α subunit of Nav channels, affecting diverse aspects of channel function. Previous studies of Nav α subunit phosphorylation have led to the identification of a small set of phosphorylation sites important in meditating aspects of Nav channel function. Here we use nanoflow liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (nano-LC MS/MS) on Nav α subunits affinity-purified from rat brain with two distinct monoclonal antibodies to identify 15 phosphorylation sites on Nav1.2, 12 of which have not been previously reported. We also found 3 novel phosphorylation sites on Nav1.1. In general, commonly used phosphorylation site prediction algorithms did not accurately predict these novel in vivo phosphorylation sites. Our results demonstrate that specific Nav α subunits isolated from rat brain are highly phosphorylated, and suggest extensive modulation of Nav channel activity in mammalian brain. Identification of phosphorylation sites using monoclonal antibody-based immunopurification and mass spectrometry is an effective approach to define the phosphorylation status of Nav channels and important membrane proteins in mammalian brain.
PMCID: PMC2849892  PMID: 20131913
voltage-gated sodium channels; brain; phosphorylation; tandem mass spectrometry; immunopurification; monoclonal antibody; nanoflow liquid chromatography
22.  Expression of Nav1.7 in DRG neurons extends from peripheral terminals in the skin to central preterminal branches and terminals in the dorsal horn 
Molecular Pain  2012;8:82.
Sodium channel Nav1.7 has emerged as a target of considerable interest in pain research, since loss-of-function mutations in SCN9A, the gene that encodes Nav1.7, are associated with a syndrome of congenital insensitivity to pain, gain-of-function mutations are linked to the debiliting chronic pain conditions erythromelalgia and paroxysmal extreme pain disorder, and upregulated expression of Nav1.7 accompanies pain in diabetes and inflammation. Since Nav1.7 has been implicated as playing a critical role in pain pathways, we examined by immunocytochemical methods the expression and distribution of Nav1.7 in rat dorsal root ganglia neurons, from peripheral terminals in the skin to central terminals in the spinal cord dorsal horn.
Nav1.7 is robustly expressed within the somata of peptidergic and non-peptidergic DRG neurons, and along the peripherally- and centrally-directed C-fibers of these cells. Nav1.7 is also expressed at nodes of Ranvier in a subpopulation of Aδ-fibers within sciatic nerve and dorsal root. The peripheral terminals of DRG neurons within skin, intraepidermal nerve fibers (IENF), exhibit robust Nav1.7 immunolabeling. The central projections of DRG neurons in the superficial lamina of spinal cord dorsal horn also display Nav1.7 immunoreactivity which extends to presynaptic terminals.
The expression of Nav1.7 in DRG neurons extends from peripheral terminals in the skin to preterminal central branches and terminals in the dorsal horn. These data support a major contribution for Nav1.7 in pain pathways, including action potential electrogenesis, conduction along axonal trunks and depolarization/invasion of presynaptic axons. The findings presented here may be important for pharmaceutical development, where target engagement in the right compartment is essential.
PMCID: PMC3517774  PMID: 23134641
Dorsal root ganglia; Dorsal horn; Intraepidermal nerve fiber; Pain pathway; Sodium channel; Spinal cord
23.  Effects of (−)-Gallocatechin-3-Gallate on Tetrodotoxin-Resistant Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels in Rat Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons 
The (−)-gallocatechin-3-gallate (GCG) concentration in some tea beverages can account for as much as 50% of the total catechins. It has been shown that catechins have analgesic properties. Voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav) mediate neuronal action potentials. Tetrodotoxin inhibits all Nav isoforms, but Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 are relatively tetrodotoxin-resistant compared to other isoforms and functionally linked to nociception. In this study, the effects of GCG on tetrodotoxin-resistant Na+ currents were investigated in rat primary cultures of dorsal root ganglion neurons via the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. We found that 1 μM GCG reduced the amplitudes of peak current density of tetrodotoxin-resistant Na+ currents significantly. Furthermore, the inhibition was accompanied by a depolarizing shift of the activation voltage and a hyperpolarizing shift of steady-state inactivation voltage. The percentage block of GCG (1 μM) on tetrodotoxin-resistant Na+ current was 45.1% ± 1.1% in 10 min. In addition, GCG did not produce frequency-dependent block of tetrodotoxin-resistant Na+ currents at stimulation frequencies of 1 Hz, 2 Hz and 5 Hz. On the basis of these findings, we propose that GCG may be a potential analgesic agent.
PMCID: PMC3676812  PMID: 23652835
catechins; (−)-gallocatechin-3-gallate; Na+ channel; dorsal root ganglion; tetrodotoxin-resistant
24.  Animal Toxins Can Alter the Function of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 
Toxins  2012;4(8):620-632.
Human voltage-activated sodium (Nav) channels are adept at rapidly transmitting electrical signals across long distances in various excitable tissues. As such, they are amongst the most widely targeted ion channels by drugs and animal toxins. Of the nine isoforms, Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 are preferentially expressed in DRG neurons where they are thought to play an important role in pain signaling. Although the functional properties of Nav1.8 have been relatively well characterized, difficulties with expressing Nav1.9 in established heterologous systems limit our understanding of the gating properties and toxin pharmacology of this particular isoform. This review summarizes our current knowledge of the role of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 in pain perception and elaborates on the approaches used to identify molecules capable of influencing their function.
PMCID: PMC3446747  PMID: 23012651
Nav1.8; Nav1.9; pain; animal toxins; voltage sensor; voltage-activated sodium channel
25.  Expression of Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel Nav1.8 in Human Prostate Cancer is Associated with High Histological Grade 
Journal of clinical & experimental oncology  2012;1(2):10.4172/2324-9110.1000102.
Voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels are required for impulse conductance in excitable tissues. Navs have been linked to human cancers, including prostate. The expression and distribution of Nav isoforms (Nav1.1-Nav1.9) in human prostate cancer are not well established. Here, we evaluated the expression of these isoforms and investigated the expression of Nav1.8 in human prostate cancer tissues. Nav1.8 was highly expressed in all examined cells. Expression of Nav1.1, Nav1.2, and Nav1.9 were high in DU-145, PC-3 and PC-3M cells compared to LNCaP (hormone-dependent), C4-2, C4-2B, and CWR22Rv-1 cells. Nav1.5 and Nav1.6 were expressed in all cells examined. Nav1.7 expression was absent in PC-3M and CWR22Rv-1, but expressed in the other cells examined. Immunohistochemistry revealed intensive Nav1.8 staining correlated with more advanced pathologic stage of disease. Increased intensity of nuclear Nav1.8 correlated with increased Gleason grade. Our results revealed that Nav1.8 is universally expressed in human prostate cancer cells. Nav1.8 expression statistically correlated with pathologic stage (P=0.04) and Gleason score (P=0.01) of human prostate tissue specimens. The aberrant nuclear localization of Nav1.8 with advanced prostate cancer tissues warrant further investigation into use of Nav1.8 as a potential biomarker to differentiate between early and advanced disease.
PMCID: PMC3807742  PMID: 24163825
Voltage-gated sodium channel; Prostate cancer; Prostate biomarker; Gleason score

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