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1.  Pharmacological fractionation of tetrodotoxin-sensitive sodium currents in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons by μ-conotoxins 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2013;169(1):102-114.
Background and Purpose
Adult rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons normally express transcripts for five isoforms of the α-subunit of voltage-gated sodium channels: NaV1.1, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8 and 1.9. Tetrodotoxin (TTX) readily blocks all but NaV1.8 and 1.9, and pharmacological agents that discriminate among the TTX-sensitive NaV1-isoforms are scarce. Recently, we used the activity profile of a panel of μ-conotoxins in blocking cloned rodent NaV1-isoforms expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes to conclude that action potentials of A- and C-fibres in rat sciatic nerve were, respectively, mediated primarily by NaV1.6 and NaV1.7.
Experimental Approach
We used three μ-conotoxins, μ-TIIIA, μ-PIIIA and μ-SmIIIA, applied individually and in combinations, to pharmacologically differentiate the TTX-sensitive INa of voltage-clamped neurons acutely dissociated from adult rat DRG. We examined only small and large neurons whose respective INa were >50% and >80% TTX-sensitive.
Key Results
In both small and large neurons, the ability of the toxins to block TTX-sensitive INa was μ-TIIIA < μ-PIIIA < μ-SmIIIA, with the latter blocking ≳90%. Comparison of the toxin-susceptibility profiles of the neuronal INa with recently acquired profiles of rat NaV1-isoforms, co-expressed with various NaVβ-subunits in X. laevis oocytes, were consistent: NaV1.1, 1.6 and 1.7 could account for all of the TTX-sensitive INa, with NaV1.1 < NaV1.6 < NaV1.7 for small neurons and NaV1.7 < NaV1.1 < NaV1.6 for large neurons.
Conclusions and Implications
Combinations of μ-conotoxins can be used to determine the probable NaV1-isoforms underlying the INa in DRG neurons. Preliminary experiments with sympathetic neurons suggest that this approach is extendable to other neurons.
PMCID: PMC3632242  PMID: 23351163
μ-conotoxin PIIIA; μ-conotoxin SmIIIA; μ-conotoxin TIIIA; dorsal root ganglion; superior cervical ganglion; tetrodotoxin; voltage-gated sodium channel; whole-cell patch clamp
2.  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
3.  CC chemokine ligand 2 upregulates the current density and expression of TRPV1 channels and Nav1.8 sodium channels in dorsal root ganglion neurons 
Inflammation or nerve injury-induced upregulation and release of chemokine CC chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) within the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) is believed to enhance the activity of DRG nociceptive neurons and cause hyperalgesia. Transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) and tetrodotoxin (TTX)-resistant Nav1.8 sodium channels play an essential role in regulating the excitability and pain transmission of DRG nociceptive neurons. We therefore tested the hypothesis that CCL2 causes peripheral sensitization of nociceptive DRG neurons by upregulating the function and expression of TRPV1 and Nav1.8 channels.
DRG neuronal culture was prepared from 3-week-old Sprague–Dawley rats and incubated with various concentrations of CCL2 for 24 to 36 hours. Whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings were performed to record TRPV1 agonist capsaicin-evoked inward currents or TTX-insensitive Na+ currents from control or CCL2-treated small DRG sensory neurons. The CCL2 effect on the mRNA expression of TRPV1 or Nav1.8 was measured by real-time quantitative RT-PCR assay.
Pretreatment of CCL2 for 24 to 36 hours dose-dependently (EC50 value = 0.6 ± 0.05 nM) increased the density of capsaicin-induced currents in small putative DRG nociceptive neurons. TRPV1 mRNA expression was greatly upregulated in DRG neurons preincubated with 5 nM CCL2. Pretreating small DRG sensory neurons with CCL2 also increased the density of TTX-resistant Na+ currents with a concentration-dependent manner (EC50 value = 0.7 ± 0.06 nM). The Nav1.8 mRNA level was significantly increased in DRG neurons pretreated with CCL2. In contrast, CCL2 preincubation failed to affect the mRNA level of TTX-resistant Nav1.9. In the presence of the specific phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY294002 or Akt inhibitor IV, CCL2 pretreatment failed to increase the current density of capsaicin-evoked inward currents or TTX-insensitive Na+ currents and the mRNA level of TRPV1 or Nav1.8.
Our results showed that CCL2 increased the function and mRNA level of TRPV1 channels and Nav1.8 sodium channels in small DRG sensory neurons via activating the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. These findings suggest that following tissue inflammation or peripheral nerve injury, upregulation and release of CCL2 within the DRG could facilitate pain transmission mediated by nociceptive DRG neurons and could induce hyperalgesia by upregulating the expression and function of TRPV1 and Nav1.8 channels in DRG nociceptive neurons.
PMCID: PMC3458897  PMID: 22870919
CC chemokine ligand 2; Dorsal root ganglion neurons; Transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor 1; Tetrodotoxin-resistant Nav1.8 sodium channel
4.  Tetrodotoxin-Resistant Sodium Channels in Sensory Neurons Generate Slow Resurgent Currents That Are Enhanced by Inflammatory Mediators 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(21):7190-7197.
Resurgent sodium currents contribute to the regeneration of action potentials and enhanced neuronal excitability. Tetrodotoxin-sensitive (TTX-S) resurgent currents have been described in many different neuron populations, including cerebellar and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons. In most cases, sodium channel Nav1.6 is the major contributor to these TTX-S resurgent currents. Here we report a novel TTX-resistant (TTX-R) resurgent current recorded from rat DRG neurons. The TTX-R resurgent currents are similar to classic TTX-S resurgent currents in many respects, but not all. As with TTX-S resurgent currents, they are activated by membrane repolarization, inhibited by lidocaine, and enhanced by a peptide-mimetic of the β4 sodium channel subunit intracellular domain. However, the TTX-R resurgent currents exhibit much slower kinetics, occur at more depolarized voltages, and are sensitive to the Nav1.8 blocker A803467. Moreover, coimmunoprecipitation experiments from rat DRG lysates indicate the endogenous sodium channel β4 subunits associate with Nav1.8 in DRG neurons. These results suggest that slow TTX-R resurgent currents in DRG neurons are mediated by Nav1.8 and are generated by the same mechanism underlying TTX-S resurgent currents. We also show that both TTX-S and TTX-R resurgent currents in DRG neurons are enhanced by inflammatory mediators. Furthermore, the β4 peptide increased excitability of small DRG neurons in the presence of TTX. We propose that these slow TTX-R resurgent currents contribute to the membrane excitability of nociceptive DRG neurons under normal conditions and that enhancement of both types of resurgent currents by inflammatory mediators could contribute to sensory neuronal hyperexcitability associated with inflammatory pain.
PMCID: PMC4028496  PMID: 24849353
action potential; hyperexcitability; nociceptor; resurgent sodium current; sodium current; voltage clamp
5.  Early Painful Diabetic Neuropathy Is Associated with Differential Changes in Tetrodotoxin-sensitive and -resistant Sodium Channels in Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons in the Rat* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2004;279(28):29341-29350.
Diabetic neuropathy is a common form of peripheral neuropathy, yet the mechanisms responsible for pain in this disease are poorly understood. Alterations in the expression and function of voltage-gated tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-R) sodium channels have been implicated in animal models of neuropathic pain, including models of diabetic neuropathy. We investigated the expression and function of TTX-sensitive (TTX-S) and TTX-R sodium channels in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and the responses to thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia in streptozotocin-treated rats between 4–8 weeks after onset of diabetes. Diabetic rats demonstrated a significant reduction in the threshold for escape from innocuous mechanical pressure (allodynia) and a reduction in the latency to withdrawal from a noxious thermal stimulus (hyperalgesia). Both TTX-S and TTX-R sodium currents increased significantly in small DRG neurons isolated from diabetic rats. The voltage-dependent activation and steady-state inactivation curves for these currents were shifted negatively. TTX-S currents induced by fast or slow voltage ramps increased markedly in neurons from diabetic rats. Immunoblots and immunofluorescence staining demonstrated significant increases in the expression of Nav1.3 (TTX-S) and Nav1.7 (TTX-S) and decreases in the expression of Nav1.6 (TTX-S) and Nav1.8 (TTX-R) in diabetic rats. The level of serine/threonine phosphorylation of Nav1.6 and Nav1.8 increased in response to diabetes. In addition, increased tyrosine phosphorylation of Nav1.6 and Nav1.7 was observed in DRGs from diabetic rats. These results suggest that both TTX-S and TTX-R sodium channels play important roles and that differential phosphorylation of sodium channels involving both serine/threonine and tyrosine sites contributes to painful diabetic neuropathy.
PMCID: PMC1828032  PMID: 15123645
6.  Actions of Tefluthrin on Rat Nav1.7 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels Expressed in Xenopus Oocytes 
In rats expression of the Nav1.7 voltage-gated sodium channel isoform is restricted to the peripheral nervous system and is abundant in the sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglion. We expressed the rat Nav1.7 sodium channel α subunit together with the rat auxiliary β1 and β2 subunits in Xenopus laevis oocytes and assessed the effects of the pyrethroid insecticide tefluthrin on the expressed currents using the two-electrode voltage clamp method. Tefluthrin at 100 µM modified of Nav1.7 channels to prolong inactivation of the peak current during a depolarizing pulse, resulting in a marked "late current" at the end of a 40-ms depolarization, and induced a sodium tail current following repolarization. Tefluthrin modification was enhanced up to two-fold by the application of a train of up to 100 5-ms depolarizing prepulses. These effects of tefluthrin on Nav1.7 channels were qualitatively similar to its effects on rat Nav1.2, Nav1.3 and Nav1.6 channels assayed previously under identical conditions. However, Nav1.7 sodium channels were distinguished by their low sensitivity to modification by tefluthrin, especially compared to Nav1.3 and Nav1.6 channels. It is likely that Nav1.7 channels contribute significantly to the tetrodotoxin-sensitive, pyrethroid-resistant current found in cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons. We aligned the complete amino acid sequences of four pyrethroid-sensitive isoforms (house fly Vssc1; rat Nav1.3, Nav1.6 and Nav1.8) and two pyrethroid-resistant isoforms (rat Nav1.2 and Nav1.7) and found only a single site, located in transmembrane segment 6 of homology domain I, at which the amino acid sequence was conserved among all four sensitive isoform sequences but differed in the two resistant isoform sequences. This position, corresponding to Val410 of the house fly Vssc1 sequence, also aligns with sites of multiple amino acid substitutions identified in the sodium channel sequences of pyrethroid-resistant insect populations. These results implicate this single amino acid polymorphism in transmembrane segment 6 of sodium channel homology domain I as a determinant of the differential pyrethroid sensitivity of rat sodium channel isoforms.
PMCID: PMC3181098  PMID: 21966053
voltage-gated sodium channel; Nav1.7 isoform; pyrethroid; tefluthrin; peripheral nervous system; dorsal root ganglion
7.  Inactivation properties of sodium channel Nav1.8 maintain action potential amplitude in small DRG neurons in the context of depolarization 
Molecular Pain  2007;3:12.
Small neurons of the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) express five of the nine known voltage-gated sodium channels. Each channel has unique biophysical characteristics which determine how it contributes to the generation of action potentials (AP). To better understand how AP amplitude is maintained in nociceptive DRG neurons and their centrally projecting axons, which are subjected to depolarization within the dorsal horn, we investigated the dependence of AP amplitude on membrane potential, and how that dependence is altered by the presence or absence of sodium channel Nav1.8.
In small neurons cultured from wild type (WT) adult mouse DRG, AP amplitude decreases as the membrane potential is depolarized from -90 mV to -30 mV. The decrease in amplitude is best fit by two Boltzmann equations, having V1/2 values of -73 and -37 mV. These values are similar to the V1/2 values for steady-state fast inactivation of tetrodotoxin-sensitive (TTX-s) sodium channels, and the tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-r) Nav1.8 sodium channel, respectively. Addition of TTX eliminates the more hyperpolarized V1/2 component and leads to increasing AP amplitude for holding potentials of -90 to -60 mV. This increase is substantially reduced by the addition of potassium channel blockers. In neurons from Nav1.8(-/-) mice, the voltage-dependent decrease in AP amplitude is characterized by a single Boltzmann equation with a V1/2 value of -55 mV, suggesting a shift in the steady-state fast inactivation properties of TTX-s sodium channels. Transfection of Nav1.8(-/-) DRG neurons with DNA encoding Nav1.8 results in a membrane potential-dependent decrease in AP amplitude that recapitulates WT properties.
We conclude that the presence of Nav1.8 allows AP amplitude to be maintained in DRG neurons and their centrally projecting axons even when depolarized within the dorsal horn.
PMCID: PMC1892009  PMID: 17540018
8.  Characterization of Endogenous Sodium Channels in the ND7-23 Neuroblastoma Cell Line: Implications for Use as a Heterologous Ion Channel Expression System Suitable for Automated Patch Clamp Screening 
The rodent neuroblastoma cell line, ND7-23, is used to express voltage-dependent sodium (Nav) and other neuronal ion channels resistant to heterologous expression in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) or human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells. Their advantage is that they provide endogenous factors and signaling pathways to promote ion channel peptide folding, expression, and function at the cell surface and are also amenable to automated patch clamping. However, ND7-23 cells exhibit endogenous tetrodotoxin (TTX)-sensitive Nav currents, and molecular profiling has revealed the presence of Nav1.2, Nav1.3, Nav1.6, and Nav1.7 transcripts, but no study has determined which subtypes contribute to functional channels at the cell surface. We profiled the repertoire of functional Nav channels endogenously expressed in ND7-23 cells using the QPatch automated patch clamp platform and selective toxins and small molecules. The potency and subtype selectivity of the ligands (Icagen compound 68 from patent US-20060025415-A1-20060202, 4,9 anhydro TTX, and Protoxin-II) were established in human Nav1.3, Nav1.6, and Nav1.7 channel cell lines before application of selective concentrations to ND7-23 cells. Our data confirm previous studies that >97% of macroscopic Nav current in ND7-23 cells is carried by TTX-sensitive channels (300 nM TTX) and that Nav1.7 is the predominant channel contributing to this response (65% of peak inward current), followed by Nav1.6 (∼20%) and negligible Nav1.3 currents (∼2%). In addition, our data are the first to assess the Nav1.6 potency (50% inhibitory concentration [IC50] of 33 nM) and selectivity (50-fold over Nav1.7) of 4,9 anhydro TTX in human Nav channels expressed in mammalian cells, confirming previous studies of rodent Nav channels expressed in oocytes and HEK cells.
PMCID: PMC4800267  PMID: 26991361
9.  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
10.  Pattern of Functional TTX-Resistant Sodium Channels Reveals a Developmental Stage of Human iPSC- and ESC-Derived Nociceptors 
Stem Cell Reports  2015;5(3):305-313.
Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) offer the opportunity to generate neuronal cells, including nociceptors. Using a chemical-based approach, we generated nociceptive sensory neurons from HUES6 embryonic stem cells and retrovirally reprogrammed induced hPSCs derived from fibroblasts. The nociceptive neurons expressed respective markers and showed tetrodotoxin-sensitive (TTXs) and -resistant (TTXr) voltage-gated sodium currents in patch-clamp experiments. In contrast to their counterparts from rodent dorsal root ganglia, TTXr currents of hPSC-derived nociceptors unexpectedly displayed a significantly more hyperpolarized voltage dependence of activation and fast inactivation. This apparent discrepancy is most likely due to a substantial expression of the developmentally important sodium channel NAV1.5. In view of the obstacles to recapitulate neuropathic pain in animal models, our data advance hPSC-derived nociceptors as a better model to study developmental and pathogenetic processes in human nociceptive neurons and to develop more specific small molecules to attenuate pain.
•hPSC-derived nociceptors express TTX-resistant sodium channels NAV1.8 and NAV1.9•SCN5A mRNA, coding for NAV1.5, is present in hPSC-derived nociceptors•The biophysical Nav characteristics support strong functional expression of NAV1.5•Human hPSC-derived nociceptors offer a suitable model of developing sensory neurons
This study investigates detailed electrophysiological characteristics of hPSC-derived peripheral nociceptive neurons with focus on voltage-gated sodium channels. Besides the pain-relevant subtypes NAV1.8 and NAV1.9, Lampert, Winner, and colleagues find that significant amounts of the developmentally important NAV1.5 are expressed and functionally active. Thus, human hPSC-derived nociceptors offer a suitable model of developing sensory neurons.
PMCID: PMC4618592  PMID: 26321143
11.  Antisense-Mediated Knockdown of NaV1.8, but Not NaV1.9, Generates Inhibitory Effects on Complete Freund's Adjuvant-Induced Inflammatory Pain in Rat 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19865.
Tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-R) sodium channels NaV1.8 and NaV1.9 in sensory neurons were known as key pain modulators. Comparing with the widely reported NaV1.8, roles of NaV1.9 on inflammatory pain are poorly studied by antisense-induced specific gene knockdown. Here, we used molecular, electrophysiological and behavioral methods to examine the effects of antisense oligodeoxynucleotide (AS ODN) targeting NaV1.8 and NaV1.9 on inflammatory pain. Following complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) inflammation treatment, NaV1.8 and NaV1.9 in rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) up-regulated mRNA and protein expressions and increased sodium current densities. Immunohistochemical data demonstrated that NaV1.8 mainly localized in medium and small-sized DRG neurons, whereas NaV1.9 only expressed in small-sized DRG neurons. Intrathecal (i.t.) delivery of AS ODN was used to down-regulate NaV1.8 or NaV1.9 expressions confirmed by immunohistochemistry and western blot. Unexpectedly, behavioral tests showed that only NaV1.8 AS ODN, but not NaV1.9 AS ODN could reverse CFA-induced heat and mechanical hypersensitivity. Our data indicated that TTX-R sodium channels NaV1.8 and NaV1.9 in primary sensory neurons played distinct roles in CFA-induced inflammatory pain and suggested that antisense oligodeoxynucleotide-mediated blocking of key pain modulator might point toward a potential treatment strategy against certain types of inflammatory pain.
PMCID: PMC3091880  PMID: 21572961
12.  Functional up-regulation of Nav1.8 sodium channel in Aβ afferent fibers subjected to chronic peripheral inflammation 
Functional alterations in the properties of Aβ afferent fibers may account for the increased pain sensitivity observed under peripheral chronic inflammation. Among the voltage-gated sodium channels involved in the pathophysiology of pain, Nav1.8 has been shown to participate in the peripheral sensitization of nociceptors. However, to date, there is no evidence for a role of Nav1.8 in controlling Aβ-fiber excitability following persistent inflammation.
Distribution and expression of Nav1.8 in dorsal root ganglia and sciatic nerves were qualitatively or quantitatively assessed by immunohistochemical staining and by real time-polymerase chain reaction at different time points following complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) administration. Using a whole-cell patch-clamp configuration, we further determined both total INa and TTX-R Nav1.8 currents in large-soma dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons isolated from sham or CFA-treated rats. Finally, we analyzed the effects of ambroxol, a Nav1.8-preferring blocker on the electrophysiological properties of Nav1.8 currents and on the mechanical sensitivity and inflammation of the hind paw in CFA-treated rats.
Our findings revealed that Nav1.8 is up-regulated in NF200-positive large sensory neurons and is subsequently anterogradely transported from the DRG cell bodies along the axons toward the periphery after CFA-induced inflammation. We also demonstrated that both total INa and Nav1.8 peak current densities are enhanced in inflamed large myelinated Aβ-fiber neurons. Persistent inflammation leading to nociception also induced time-dependent changes in Aβ-fiber neuron excitability by shifting the voltage-dependent activation of Nav1.8 in the hyperpolarizing direction, thus decreasing the current threshold for triggering action potentials. Finally, we found that ambroxol significantly reduces the potentiation of Nav1.8 currents in Aβ-fiber neurons observed following intraplantar CFA injection and concomitantly blocks CFA-induced mechanical allodynia, suggesting that Nav1.8 regulation in Aβ-fibers contributes to inflammatory pain.
Collectively, these findings support a key role for Nav1.8 in controlling the excitability of Aβ-fibers and its potential contribution to the development of mechanical allodynia under persistent inflammation.
PMCID: PMC4007624  PMID: 24606981
Aβ-fibers; Allodynia; Complete Freund’s adjuvant; Electrophysiology; Sodium channel blocker
13.  Biophysical properties of Nav1.8/Nav1.2 chimeras and inhibition by µO-conotoxin MrVIB 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2012;166(7):2148-2160.
Voltage-gated sodium channels are expressed primarily in excitable cells and play a pivotal role in the initiation and propagation of action potentials. Nine subtypes of the pore-forming α-subunit have been identified, each with a distinct tissue distribution, biophysical properties and sensitivity to tetrodotoxin (TTX). Nav1.8, a TTX-resistant (TTX-R) subtype, is selectively expressed in sensory neurons and plays a pathophysiological role in neuropathic pain. In comparison with TTX-sensitive (TTX-S) Navα-subtypes in neurons, Nav1.8 is most strongly inhibited by the µO-conotoxin MrVIB from Conus marmoreus. To determine which domain confers Nav1.8 α-subunit its biophysical properties and MrVIB binding, we constructed various chimeric channels incorporating sequence from Nav1.8 and the TTX-S Nav1.2 using a domain exchange strategy.
Wild-type and chimeric Nav channels were expressed in Xenopus oocytes, and depolarization-activated Na+ currents were recorded using the two-electrode voltage clamp technique.
MrVIB (1 µM) reduced Nav1.2 current amplitude to 69 ± 12%, whereas Nav1.8 current was reduced to 31 ± 3%, confirming that MrVIB has a binding preference for Nav1.8. A similar reduction in Na+ current amplitude was observed when MrVIB was applied to chimeras containing the region extending from S6 segment of domain I through the S5-S6 linker of domain II of Nav1.8. In contrast, MrVIB had only a small effect on Na+ current for chimeras containing the corresponding region of Nav1.2.
Taken together, these results suggest that domain II of Nav1.8 is an important determinant of MrVIB affinity, highlighting a region of the α-subunit that may allow further nociceptor-specific ligand targeting.
PMCID: PMC3402778  PMID: 22452751
electrophysiology; heterologous expression; Xenopus oocytes; chimera; µO-conotoxin MrVIB; tetrodotoxin; voltage-gated sodium channels; Nav1.2; Nav1.8
14.  Localization of Sodium Channel Subtypes in Mouse Ventricular Myocytes Using Quantitative Immunocytochemistry 
Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology  2013;64:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2013.08.004.
Voltage-gated sodium channels are responsible for the rising phase of the action potential in cardiac muscle. Previously, both TTX-sensitive neuronal sodium channels (NaV1.1, NaV1.2, NaV1.3, NaV1.4 and NaV1.6) and the TTX-resistant cardiac sodium channel (NaV1.5) have been detected in cardiac myocytes, but relative levels of protein expression of the isoforms were not determined. Using a quantitative approach, we analyzed z-series of confocal microscopy images from individual mouse myocytes stained with either anti-NaV1.1, anti-NaV1.2, anti-NaV1.3, anti-NaV1.4, anti-NaV1.5, or anti-NaV1.6 antibodies and calculated the relative intensity of staining for these sodium channel isoforms. Our results indicate that the TTX-sensitive channels represented approximately 23% of the total channels, whereas the TTX-resistant NaV1.5 channel represented 77% of the total channel staining in mouse ventricular myocytes. These ratios are consistent with previous electrophysiological studies in mouse ventricular myocytes. NaV1.5 was located at the cell surface, with high density at the intercalated disc, but was absent from the transverse (t)-tubular system, suggesting that these channels support surface conduction and inter-myocyte transmission. Low-level cell surface staining of NaV1.4 and NaV1.6 channels suggest a minor role in surface excitation and conduction. Conversely, NaV1.1 and NaV1.3 channels are localized to the t-tubules and are likely to support t-tubular transmission of the action potential to the myocyte interior. This quantitative immunocytochemical approach for assessing sodium channel density and localization provides a more precise view of the relative importance and possible roles of these individual sodium channel protein isoforms in mouse ventricular myocytes and may be applicable to other species and cardiac tissue types.
PMCID: PMC3851329  PMID: 23982034
15.  A novel selective and orally bioavailable Nav1.8 channel blocker, PF-01247324, attenuates nociception and sensory neuron excitability 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2015;172(10):2654-2670.
Background and Purpose
NaV1.8 ion channels have been highlighted as important molecular targets for the design of low MW blockers for the treatment of chronic pain. Here, we describe the effects of PF-01247324, a new generation, selective, orally bioavailable Nav1.8 channel blocker of novel chemotype.
Experimental Approach
The inhibition of Nav1.8 channels by PF-01247324 was studied using in vitro patch-clamp electrophysiology and the oral bioavailability and antinociceptive effects demonstrated using in vivo rodent models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
Key Results
PF-01247324 inhibited native tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-R) currents in human dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons (IC50: 331 nM) and in recombinantly expressed h Nav1.8 channels (IC50: 196 nM), with 50-fold selectivity over recombinantly expressed TTX-R hNav1.5 channels (IC50: ∼10 μM) and 65–100-fold selectivity over TTX-sensitive (TTX-S) channels (IC50: ∼10–18 μM). Native TTX-R currents in small-diameter rodent DRG neurons were inhibited with an IC50 448 nM, and the block of both human recombinant Nav1.8 channels and TTX-R from rat DRG neurons was both frequency and state dependent. In vitro current clamp showed that PF-01247324 reduced excitability in both rat and human DRG neurons and also altered the waveform of the action potential. In vivo experiments n rodents demonstrated efficacy in both inflammatory and neuropathic pain models.
Conclusions and Implications
Using PF-01247324, we have confirmed a role for Nav1.8 channels in both inflammatory and neuropathic pain. We have also demonstrated a key role for Nav1.8 channels in action potential upstroke and repetitive firing of rat and human DRG neurons.
PMCID: PMC4409913  PMID: 25625641
16.  Differential modulation of Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 peripheral nerve sodium channels by the local anesthetic lidocaine 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2004;142(3):576-584.
Voltage-gated Na+ channels are transmembrane proteins that are essential for the propagation of action potentials in excitable cells. Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 dorsal root ganglion Na+ channels exhibit different kinetics and sensitivities to tetrodotoxin (TTX). We investigated the properties of both channels in the presence of lidocaine, a local anesthetic (LA) and class I anti-arrhythmic drug.Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 Na+ channels were coexpressed with the β1-subunit in Xenopus oocytes. Na+ currents were recorded using the two-microelectrode voltage-clamp technique.Dose–response curves for both channels had different EC50 (dose producing 50% maximum current inhibition) (450 μM for Nav1.7 and 104 μM for Nav1.8). Lidocaine enhanced current decrease in a frequency-dependent manner. Steady-state inactivation of both channels was also affected by lidocaine, Nav1.7 being the most sensitive. Only the steady-state activation of Nav1.8 was affected while the entry of both channels into slow inactivation was affected by lidocaine, Nav1.8 being affected to a larger degree.Although the channels share homology at DIV S6, the LA binding site, they differ in their sensitivity to lidocaine. Recent studies suggest that other residues on DI and DII known to influence lidocaine binding may explain the differences in affinities between Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 Na+ channels.Understanding the properties of these channels and their pharmacology is of critical importance to developing drugs and finding effective therapies to treat chronic pain.
PMCID: PMC1574965  PMID: 15148257
Nav1.7; Nav1.8; sodium channels; lidocaine; local anesthetics; pain; peripheral nerve; dorsal root ganglion; Xenopus oocytes
17.  Voltage-gated sodium channels in the mammalian heart 
Global Cardiology Science & Practice  2014;2014(4):449-463.
Mammalian species express nine functional voltage-gated Na+ channels. Three of them, the cardiac-specific isoform Nav1.5 and the neuronal isoforms Nav1.8 and Nav1.9, are relatively resistant to the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTX; IC50 ≥ 1 μM). The other six isoforms are highly sensitive to TTX with IC50 values in the nanomolar range. These isoforms are expressed in the central nervous system (Nav1.1, Nav1.2, Nav1.3, Nav1.6), in the skeletal muscle (Nav1.4), and in the peripheral nervous system (Nav1.6, Nav1.7). The isoform Nav1.5, encoded by the SCN5A gene, is responsible for the upstroke of the action potential in the heart. Mutations in SCN5A are associated with a variety of life-threatening arrhythmias, like long QT syndrome type 3 (LQT3), Brugada syndrome (BrS) or cardiac conduction disease (CCD). Previous immunohistochemical and electrophysiological assays demonstrated the cardiac expression of neuronal and skeletal muscle Na+ channels in the heart of various mammals, which led to far-reaching speculations on their function. However, when comparing the Na+ channel mRNA patterns in the heart of various mammalian species, only minute quantities of transcripts for TTX-sensitive Na+ channels were detectable in whole pig and human hearts, suggesting that these channels are not involved in cardiac excitation phenomena in higher mammals. This conclusion is strongly supported by the fact that mutations in TTX-sensitive Na+ channels were associated with epilepsy or skeletal muscle diseases, rather than with a pathological cardiac phenotype. Moreover, previous data from TTX-intoxicated animals and from cases of human tetrodotoxication showed that low TTX dosages caused at most little alterations of both the cardiac output and the electrocardiogram. Recently, genome-wide association studies identified SCN10A, the gene encoding Nav1.8, as a determinant of cardiac conduction parameters, and mutations in SCN10A have been associated with BrS. These novel findings opened a fascinating new research area in the cardiac ion channel field, and the on-going debate on how SCN10A/Nav1.8 affects cardiac conduction is very exciting.
PMCID: PMC4355518  PMID: 25780798
18.  Roles of Voltage-Gated Tetrodotoxin-Sensitive Sodium Channels NaV1.3 and NaV1.7 in Diabetes and Painful Diabetic Neuropathy 
Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a common chronic medical problem worldwide; one of its complications is painful peripheral neuropathy, which can substantially erode quality of life and increase the cost of management. Despite its clinical importance, the pathogenesis of painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN) is complex and incompletely understood. Voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs) link many physiological processes to electrical activity by controlling action potentials in all types of excitable cells. Two isoforms of VGSCs, NaV1.3 and NaV1.7, which are encoded by the sodium voltage-gated channel alpha subunit 3 and 9 (Scn3A and Scn9A) genes, respectively, have been identified in both peripheral nociceptive neurons of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and pancreatic islet cells. Recent advances in our understanding of tetrodotoxin-sensitive (TTX-S) sodium channels NaV1.3 and NaV1.7 lead to the rational doubt about the cause–effect relation between diabetes and painful neuropathy. In this review, we summarize the roles of NaV1.3 and NaV1.7 in islet cells and DRG neurons, discuss the link between DM and painful neuropathy, and present a model, which may provide a starting point for further studies aimed at identifying the mechanisms underlying diabetes and painful neuropathy.
PMCID: PMC5037757  PMID: 27608006
diabetes mellitus; painful diabetic neuropathy; NaV1.3; NaV1.7; dorsal root ganglion neurons; pancreatic islet cells
19.  Inhibition of voltage-gated Na+ currents in sensory neurones by the sea anemone toxin APETx2 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2012;165(7):2167-2177.
APETx2, a toxin from the sea anemone Anthropleura elegantissima, inhibits acid-sensing ion channel 3 (ASIC3)-containing homo- and heterotrimeric channels with IC50 values < 100 nM and 0.1–2 µM respectively. ASIC3 channels mediate acute acid-induced and inflammatory pain response and APETx2 has been used as a selective pharmacological tool in animal studies. Toxins from sea anemones also modulate voltage-gated Na+ channel (Nav) function. Here we tested the effects of APETx2 on Nav function in sensory neurones.
Effects of APETx2 on Nav function were studied in rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurones by whole-cell patch clamp.
APETx2 inhibited the tetrodotoxin (TTX)-resistant Nav 1.8 currents of DRG neurones (IC50, 2.6 µM). TTX-sensitive currents were less inhibited. The inhibition of Nav 1.8 currents was due to a rightward shift in the voltage dependence of activation and a reduction of the maximal macroscopic conductance. The inhibition of Nav 1.8 currents by APETx2 was confirmed with cloned channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes. In current-clamp experiments in DRG neurones, the number of action potentials induced by injection of a current ramp was reduced by APETx2.
APETx2 inhibited Nav 1.8 channels, in addition to ASIC3 channels, at concentrations used in in vivo studies. The limited specificity of this toxin should be taken into account when using APETx2 as a pharmacological tool. Its dual action will be an advantage for the use of APETx2 or its derivatives as analgesic drugs.
PMCID: PMC3413854  PMID: 21943094
APETx2; ASIC; Nav 1.8; peptide toxin; DRG; inflammatory pain; acid-induced pain; sea anemone toxins
20.  Voltage-dependent sodium (NaV) channels in group IV sensory afferents 
Molecular Pain  2016;12:1744806916660721.
Patients with intermittent claudication suffer from both muscle pain and an exacerbated exercise pressor reflex. Excitability of the group III and group IV afferent fibers mediating these functions is controlled in part by voltage-dependent sodium (NaV) channels. We previously found tetrodotoxin-resistant NaV1.8 channels to be the primary type in muscle afferent somata. However, action potentials in group III and IV afferent axons are blocked by TTX, supporting a minimal role of NaV1.8 channels. To address these apparent differences in NaV channel expression between axon and soma, we used immunohistochemistry to identify the NaV channels expressed in group IV axons within the gastrocnemius muscle and the dorsal root ganglia sections. Positive labeling by an antibody against the neurofilament protein peripherin was used to identify group IV neurons and axons. We show that >67% of group IV fibers express NaV1.8, NaV1.6, or NaV1.7. Interestingly, expression of NaV1.8 channels in group IV somata was significantly higher than in the fibers, whereas there were no significant differences for either NaV1.6 or NaV1.7. When combined with previous work, our results suggest that NaV1.8 channels are expressed in most group IV axons, but that, under normal conditions, NaV1.6 and/or NaV1.7 play a more important role in action potential generation to signal muscle pain and the exercise pressor reflex.
PMCID: PMC4956173  PMID: 27385723
Voltage-dependent sodium channels; dorsal root ganglia; exercise pressor reflex; muscle afferents
21.  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
22.  Increased peripheral nerve excitability and local NaV1.8 mRNA up-regulation in painful neuropathy 
Molecular Pain  2009;5:14.
Neuropathic pain caused by peripheral nerve injury is a chronic disorder that represents a significant clinical challenge because the pathological mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. Several studies have suggested the involvement of various sodium channels, including tetrodotoxin-resistant NaV1.8, in affected dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. We have hypothesized that altered local expression of NaV1.8 in the peripheral axons of DRG neurons could facilitate nociceptive signal generation and propagation after neuropathic injury.
After unilateral sciatic nerve entrapment injury in rats, compound action potential amplitudes were increased in both myelinated and unmyelinated fibers of the ipsilateral sciatic nerve. Tetrodotoxin resistance of both fiber populations and sciatic nerve NaV1.8 immunoreactivity were also increased. Further analysis of NaV1.8 distribution revealed that immunoreactivity and mRNA levels were decreased and unaffected, respectively, in the ipsilateral L4 and L5 DRG; however sciatic nerve NaV1.8 mRNA showed nearly an 11-fold ipsilateral increase. Nav1.8 mRNA observed in the sciatic nerve was likely of axonal origin since it was not detected in non-neuronal cells cultured from nerve tissue. Absence of changes in NaV1.8 mRNA polyadenylation suggests that increased mRNA stability was not responsible for the selective peripheral mRNA increase. Furthermore, mRNA levels of NaV1.3, NaV1.5, NaV1.6, NaV1.7, and NaV1.9 were not significantly different between ipsilateral and contralateral nerves. We therefore propose that selective NaV1.8 mRNA axonal transport and local up-regulation could contribute to the hyperexcitability of peripheral nerves in some neuropathic pain states.
Cuff entrapment injury resulted in significantly elevated axonal excitability and increased NaV1.8 immunoreactivity in rat sciatic nerves. The concomitant axonal accumulation of NaV1.8 mRNA may play a role in the pathogenesis of this model of neuropathic pain.
PMCID: PMC2667430  PMID: 19320998
23.  Continuous delta opioid receptor activation reduces neuronal voltage gated sodium channel (NaV1.7) levels through activation of protein kinase C in painful diabetic neuropathy 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2008;28(26):6652-6658.
The NaV1.7 tetrodotoxin-sensitive voltage-gated sodium channel isoform plays a critical role in nociception. In rodent models of diabetic neuropathy, increased NaV1.7 in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons correlates with the emergence of pain-related behaviors characteristic of painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN). We examined the effect of transgene-mediated expression of enkephalin on pain-related behaviors and their biochemical correlates in DRG neurons. Transfection of DRG neurons by subcutaneous inoculation of a herpes simplex virus (HSV)-based vector expressing proenkephalin (PE) reversed nocisponsive behavioral responses to heat, cold, and mechanical pressure characteristic of PDN. Vector-mediated enkephalin production in vivo prevented the increase in DRG NaV1.7 observed in PDN, an effect that correlated with inhibition of phosphorylation of p38 MAP kinase and protein kinase C (PKC). Primary DRG neurons in vitro exposed to 45 mM glucose for 18 hrs also demonstrated an increase in NaV1.7 and increased phosphorylation of p38 and PKC; these changes were prevented by transfection in vitro with the enkephalin-expressing vector. The effect of hyperglycemia on NaV1.7 production in vitro was mimicked by exposure to PMA, and blocked by the myristolated PKC inhibitor 20–28 or the p38 inhibitor SB202190; the effect of vector-mediated enkephalin on NaV1.7 levels was prevented by naltrindole. The results of these studies suggest that activation of the presynaptic delta opioid receptor by enkephalin prevents the increase in neuronal NaV1.7 in DRG through inhibition of PKC and p38. These results establish a novel interaction between the delta opioid receptor and voltage gated sodium channels.
PMCID: PMC3321315  PMID: 18579738
pain; diabetic neuropathy; sodium channel; gene therapy; herpes simplex; enkephalins
24.  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
25.  A 3.7 kb Fragment of the Mouse Scn10a Gene Promoter Directs Neural Crest But Not Placodal Lineage EGFP Expression in a Transgenic Animal 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2015;35(20):8021-8034.
Under physiological conditions, the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.8 is expressed almost exclusively in primary sensory neurons. The mechanism restricting Nav1.8 expression is not entirely clear, but we have previously described a 3.7 kb fragment of the Scn10a promoter capable of recapitulating the tissue-specific expression of Nav1.8 in transfected neurons and cell lines (Puhl and Ikeda, 2008). To validate these studies in vivo, a transgenic mouse encoding EGFP under the control of this putative sensory neuron specific promoter was generated and characterized in this study. Approximately 45% of dorsal root ganglion neurons of transgenic mice were EGFP-positive (mean diameter = 26.5 μm). The majority of EGFP-positive neurons bound isolectin B4, although a small percentage (∼10%) colabeled with markers of A-fiber neurons. EGFP expression correlated well with the presence of Nav1.8 transcript (95%), Nav1.8-immunoreactivity (70%), and TTX-R INa (100%), although not all Nav1.8-expressing neurons expressed EGFP. Several cranial sensory ganglia originating from neurogenic placodes, such as the nodose ganglion, failed to express EGFP, suggesting that additional regulatory elements dictate Scn10a expression in placodal-derived sensory neurons. EGFP was also detected in discrete brain regions of transgenic mice. Quantitative PCR and Nav1.8-immunoreactivity confirmed Nav1.8 expression in the amygdala, brainstem, globus pallidus, lateral and paraventricular hypothalamus, and olfactory tubercle. TTX-R INa recorded from EGFP-positive hypothalamic neurons demonstrate the usefulness of this transgenic line to study novel roles of Nav1.8 beyond sensory neurons. Overall, Scn10a-EGFP transgenic mice recapitulate the majority of the Nav1.8 expression pattern in neural crest-derived sensory neurons.
PMCID: PMC4438136  PMID: 25995484
dorsal root ganglia; nodose ganglion; pain; sodium channels; transgenic

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