Voltage-gated sodium channels play important roles in modulating dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neuron hyperexcitability and hyperalgesia after peripheral nerve injury or inflammation. We report that chronic compression of DRG (CCD) produces profound effect on tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-R) and tetrodotoxin-sensitive (TTX-S) sodium currents, which are different from that by chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve in small DRG neurons. Whole cell patch-clamp recordings were obtained in vitro from L4 and/or L5 dissociated, small DRG neurons following in vivo DRG compression or nerve injury. The small DRG neurons were classified into slow and fast subtype neurons based on expression of the slow-inactivating TTX-R and fast-inactivating TTX-S Na+ currents. CCD treatment significantly reduced TTX-R and TTX-S current densities in the slow and fast neurons, but CCI selectively reduced the TTX-R and TTX-S current densities in the slow neurons. Changes in half-maximal potential (V1/2) and curve slope (k) of steady-state inactivation of Na+ currents were different in the slow and fast neurons after CCD and CCI treatment. The window current of TTX-R and TTX-S currents in fast neurons were enlarged by CCD and CCI, while only that of TTX-S currents in slow neurons was increased by CCI. The decay rate of TTX-S and both TTX-R and TTX-S currents in fast neurons were reduced by CCD and CCI, respectively. These findings provide a possible sodium channel mechanism underlying CCD-induced DRG neuron hyperexcitability and hyperalgesia and demonstrate a differential effect in the Na+ currents of small DRG neurons after somata compression and peripheral nerve injury. This study also points to a complexity of hyperexcitability mechanisms contributing to CCD and CCI hyperexcitability in small DRG neurons.
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.
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.
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.
Na+ channel; tetrodotoxin; dorsal root ganglion; patch clamp; PKA; PKC
Substance P (SP), which mainly exists in a subtype of small-diameter dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, is an important signal molecule in pain processing in the spinal cord. Our previous results have proved the expression of SP receptor neurokinin-1 (NK-1) on DRG neurons and its interaction with transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) receptor.
In this study we investigated the effect of NK-1 receptor agonist on Nav1.8, a tetrodotoxin (TTX)-resistant sodium channel, in rat small-diameter DRG neurons employing whole-cell patch clamp recordings. NK-1 agonist [Sar9, Met(O2)11]-substance P (Sar-SP) significantly enhanced the Nav1.8 currents in a subgroup of small-diameter DRG neurons under both the normal and inflammatory situation, and the enhancement was blocked by NK-1 antagonist Win51708 and protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor bisindolylmaleimide (BIM), but not the protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor H89. In particular, the inhibitor of PKCε, a PKC isoform, completely blocked this effect. Under current clamp model, Sar-SP reduced the amount of current required to evoke action potentials and increased the firing rate in a subgroup of DRG neurons.
These data suggest that activation of NK-1 receptor potentiates Nav1.8 sodium current via PKCε-dependent signaling pathway, probably participating in the generation of inflammatory hyperalgesia.
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.
CC chemokine ligand 2; Dorsal root ganglion neurons; Transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor 1; Tetrodotoxin-resistant Nav1.8 sodium channel
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.
Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is the quintessential ligand of voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs). Like TTX, μ-conotoxin peptides are pore blockers, and both toxins have helped to define the properties of neurotoxin receptor Site 1 of NaVs. Here, we report unexpected results showing that the recently discovered μ-conotoxin KIIIA and TTX can simultaneously bind to Site 1 and act in concert. Results with saturating concentrations of peptide applied to voltage-clamped Xenopus oocytes expressing brain NaV1.2, and single-channel recordings from brain channels in lipid bilayers, show that KIIIA or its analog, KIIIA[K7A], block partially, with a residual current that can be completely blocked by TTX. In addition, the kinetics of block by TTX and peptide are each affected by the prior presence of the other toxin. For example, bound peptide slows subsequent binding of TTX (an antagonistic interaction) and slows TTX dissociation when both toxins are bound (a synergistic effect on block). The overall functional consequence resulting from the combined action of the toxins depends on the quantitative balance between these opposing actions. The results lead us to postulate that in the bi-liganded NaV complex, TTX is bound between the peptide and the selectivity filter. These observations refine our view of Site 1 and open new possibilities in NaV pharmacology.
conotoxin; contratoxin; NaV1.2; oocyte; sodium channel; site 1; syntoxin; tetrodotoxin; voltage clamp
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.
tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channel; pain; promoter; sensory neuron
The TRPM8 channel is a principal cold transducer that is expressed on some primary afferents of the somatic and cranial sensory systems. However, it is uncertain whether TRPM8-expressing afferent neurons have the ability to convey innocuous and noxious cold stimuli with sensory discrimination between the two sub-modalities. Using rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and the patch-clamp recording technique, we characterized membrane and action potential properties of TRPM8-expressing DRG neurons at 24°C and 10°C. TRPM8-expressing neurons could be classified into TTX-sensitive (TTXs/TRPM8) and TTX-resistant (TTXr/TRPM8) subtypes based on the sensitivity to tetrodotoxin (TTX) block of their action potentials. These two subtypes of cold-sensing cells displayed different membrane and action potential properties. Voltage-activated inward Na+ currents were highly susceptible to cooling temperature and abolished by ~95% at 10°C in TTXs/TRPM8 DRG neurons, but remained substantially large at 10°C in TTXr/TRPM8 cells. In both TTXs/TRPM8 and TTXr/TRPM8 cells, voltage-activated outward K+ currents were substantially inhibited at 10°C, and the cooling-sensitive outward currents resembled A-type K+ currents. TTXs/TRPM8 neurons and TTXr/TRPM8 neurons were shown to fire action potentials at innocuous and noxious cold temperatures respectively, demonstrating sensory discrimination between innocuous and noxious cold by the two subpopulations of cold-sensing DRG neurons. The effects of cooling temperatures on voltage-gated Na+ channels and A-type K+ currents are likely to be contributing factors to sensory discrimination of cold by TTXs/TRPM8 and TTXr/TRPM8 afferent neurons.
Voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs) play a key role in the initiation and propagation of action potentials in neurons. NaV1.8 is a tetrodotoxin (TTX) resistant VGSC expressed in nociceptors, peripheral small-diameter neurons able to detect noxious stimuli. NaV1.8 underlies the vast majority of sodium currents during action potentials. Many studies have highlighted a key role for NaV1.8 in inflammatory and chronic pain models. Lipid rafts are microdomains of the plasma membrane highly enriched in cholesterol and sphingolipids. Lipid rafts tune the spatial and temporal organisation of proteins and lipids on the plasma membrane. They are thought to act as platforms on the membrane where proteins and lipids can be trafficked, compartmentalised and functionally clustered. In the present study we investigated NaV1.8 sub-cellular localisation and explored the idea that it is associated with lipid rafts in nociceptors. We found that NaV1.8 is distributed in clusters along the axons of DRG neurons in vitro and ex vivo. We also demonstrated, by biochemical and imaging studies, that NaV1.8 is associated with lipid rafts along the sciatic nerve ex vivo and in DRG neurons in vitro. Moreover, treatments with methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MβCD) and 7-ketocholesterol (7KC) led to the dissociation between rafts and NaV1.8. By calcium imaging we demonstrated that the lack of association between rafts and NaV1.8 correlated with impaired neuronal excitability, highlighted by a reduction in the number of neurons able to conduct mechanically- and chemically-evoked depolarisations. These findings reveal the sub-cellular localisation of NaV1.8 in nociceptors and highlight the importance of the association between NaV1.8 and lipid rafts in the control of nociceptor excitability.
The discovery of the tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-R) Na+ channel in nociceptive neurons has provided a special target for analgesic intervention. In a previous study we found that both morphine tolerance and persistent visceral inflammation resulted in visceral hyperalgesia. It has also been suggested that hyperexcitability of sensory neurons due to altered TTX-R Na+ channel properties and expression contributes to hyperalgesia; however, we do not know if some TTX-R Na+ channel property changes can be triggered by visceral hyperalgesia and morphine tolerance, or whether there are similar molecular or channel mechanisms in both situations. To evaluate the effects of morphine tolerance and visceral inflammation on the channel, we investigated the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neuronal change following these chronic treatments. Using whole-cell patch clamp recording, we recorded TTX-R Na+ currents in isolated adult rat lumbar and sacral (L6−S2) DRG neurons from normal and pathologic rats with colon inflammatory pain or chronic morphine treatment. We found that the amplitudes of TTX-R Na+ currents were significantly increased in small-diameter DRG neurons with either morphine tolerance or visceral inflammatory pain. Meanwhile, the result also showed that those treatments altered the kinetics properties of the electrical current (ie, the activating and inactivating speed of the channel was accelerated). Our current results suggested that in both models, visceral chronic inflammatory pain and morphine tolerance causes electrophysiological changes in voltage-gated Na channels due to the chronic administration of these medications. For the first time, the present investigation explored the adaptations of this channel, which may contribute to the hyperexcitability of primary afferent nerves and hyperalgesia during these pathologic conditions. The results also suggest that neurophysiologic mechanisms of morphine tolerance and visceral hyperalgesia are related at the TTX-R Na+ channel.
TTX-resistant Na+ channel; neuroplasticity; visceral hyperalgesia; morphine tolerance; DRG
Tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-R) Na+ channels are 1,000-fold less sensitive to TTX than TTX-sensitive (TTX-S) Na+ channels. On the other hand, TTX-R channels are much more susceptible to external Cd2+ block than TTX-S channels. A cysteine (or serine) residue situated just next to the aspartate residue of the presumable selectivity filter “DEKA” ring of the TTX-R channel has been identified as the key ligand determining the binding affinity of both TTX and Cd2+. In this study we demonstrate that the binding affinity of Cd2+ to the TTX-R channels in neurons from dorsal root ganglia has little intrinsic voltage dependence, but is significantly influenced by the direction of Na+ current flow. In the presence of inward Na+ current, the apparent dissociation constant of Cd2+ (∼200 μM) is ∼9 times smaller than that in the presence of outward Na+ current. The Na+ flow–dependent binding affinity change of Cd2+ block is true no matter whether the direction of Na+ current is secured by asymmetrical chemical gradient (e.g., 150 mM Na+ vs. 150 mM Cs+ on different sides of the membrane, 0 mV) or by asymmetrical electrical gradient (e.g., 150 mM Na+ on both sides of the membrane, −20 mV vs. 20 mV). These findings suggest that Cd2+ is a pore blocker of TTX-R channels with its binding site located in a multiion, single-file region near the external pore mouth. Quantitative analysis of the flow dependence with the flux-coupling equation reveals that at least two Na+ ions coexist with the blocking Cd2+ ion in this pore region in the presence of 150 mM ambient Na+. Thus, the selectivity filter of the TTX-R Na+ channels in dorsal root ganglion neurons might be located in or close to a multiion single-file pore segment connected externally to a wide vestibule, a molecular feature probably shared by other voltage-gated cationic channels, such as some Ca2+ and K+ channels.
ion permeation; flux-coupling; selectivity filter; multiion pore; single-file region
The mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain induction are very complex but might involve abnormal spontaneous activity in the sensory dorsal root ganglion (DRG). Voltage-gated sodium channels in the DRG are essential for the genesis of abnormal spontaneous neuronal activity. In the present study, we examined the changes in expression of the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.1 in the DRG after peripheral nerve injury. Western blot analysis showed that the level of Nav1.1 protein in the ipsilateral L5 DRG was significantly increased on days 3 and 7 after fifth lumbar spinal nerve ligation. Immunohistochemical study further confirmed a marked increase in the percentage of Nav1.1-positive cells in the ipsilateral DRG on day 3 after fifth lumbar spinal nerve ligation. Similarly, on day 7 after sciatic nerve axotomy, the amount of Nav1.1 protein and the percentage of Nav1.1-positive cells in the ipsilateral L5 DRG were also significantly increased. Our results suggest that an early increase in DRG Nav1.1 expression after peripheral nerve injury might be involved in the induction of neuropathic pain.
Nav1.1; sodium channel; neuropathic pain; dorsal root ganglion; rat
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.
pain; diabetic neuropathy; sodium channel; gene therapy; herpes simplex; enkephalins
Gain-of-function mutations of the nociceptive voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.7 lead to inherited pain syndromes, such as paroxysmal extreme pain disorder (PEPD). One characteristic of these mutations is slowed fast-inactivation kinetics, which may give rise to resurgent sodium currents. It is long known that toxins from Anemonia sulcata, such as ATX-II, slow fast inactivation and skin contact for example during diving leads to various symptoms such as pain and itch. Here, we investigated if ATX-II induces resurgent currents in sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglion (DRGs) and how this may translate into human sensations.
In large A-fiber related DRGs ATX-II (5 nM) enhances persistent and resurgent sodium currents, but failed to do so in small C-fiber linked DRGs when investigated using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. Resurgent currents are thought to depend on the presence of the sodium channel β4-subunit. Using RT-qPCR experiments, we show that small DRGs express significantly less β4 mRNA than large sensory neurons. With the β4-C-terminus peptide in the pipette solution, it was possible to evoke resurgent currents in small DRGs and in Nav1.7 or Nav1.6 expressing HEK293/N1E115 cells, which were enhanced by the presence of extracellular ATX-II. When injected into the skin of healthy volunteers, ATX-II induces painful and itch-like sensations which were abolished by mechanical nerve block. Increase in superficial blood flow of the skin, measured by Laser doppler imaging is limited to the injection site, so no axon reflex erythema as a correlate for C-fiber activation was detected.
ATX-II enhances persistent and resurgent sodium currents in large diameter DRGs, whereas small DRGs depend on the addition of β4-peptide to the pipette recording solution for ATX-II to affect resurgent currents. Mechanical A-fiber blockade abolishes all ATX-II effects in human skin (e.g. painful and itch-like paraesthesias), suggesting that it mediates its effects mainly via activation of A-fibers.
Patch-clamp; Psychophysics; Differential nerve block; Sensory neurons; Itch; Sodium channels; RT-qPCR; SCN4b
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.
sea anemone; toxin; inactivation; sodium channel; subtype; selectivity
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Voltage-dependent Na+ conductances were studied in small (18–25 μm diam) adult rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons with the use of the whole cell patch-clamp technique. Na+ currents were also recorded from larger (44–50 μm diam) neurons and compared with those of the small neurons.The predominant Na+ conductance in the small neurons was selective over tetramethylammonium by at least 10-fold and was resistant to 1 μM external tetrodotoxin (TTX). Na+ conductances in many larger DRG neurons were kinetically faster and, in contrast, were blocked by 1 μM TTX.The Na+ conductance in the small neurons was kinetically slow. Activation half-times were voltage dependent and ranged from 2 ms at −20 mV to 0.7 ms at +50 mV. Approximately 50% of the activation half-time was comprised of an initial delay. Inactivation half-times were voltage dependent and ranged from 11 ms at −20 mV to 2 ms at +50 mV.Peak slow Na+ conductances were near maximal with conditioning potentials negative to −120 mV and were significantly reduced or eliminated with conditioning potentials positive to −40 mV. The slow Na+ conductance increased gradually with test potentials extending from −40 to +40 mV. In some cells the conductance could be saturated at +10 mV. Peak conductance/voltage relationships, although stable in a given neuron, revealed marked variability among neurons, spanning >20- and 50-mV domains for steady-state activation and inactivation (current availability), respectively.Kinetics remained stable within a given neuron over the course of an experiment. However, considerable kinetic variation was exhibited from neuron to neuron, such that the half-times of activation and of inactivation spanned an order of magnitude. In all small neurons studied there appeared to be a singular kinetic component of the current, based on sensitivity to the conditioning potential, voltage dependence of activation, and inactivation half-time.Unique closing properties were exhibited by Na+ channels of the small neurons. Hyperpolarization following a depolarization-induced fully inactivated state resulted in tail currents that appeared to be the consequence of reactivation of the slow Na+ conductance. Tail currents recorded at various times during a fixed level of depolarization revealed that the underlying channels accumulated into a volatile inactivated state over the course of the preceding depolarization.Larger neurons had a different repertoire of Na+ conductances, with either only a TTX-sensitive, kinetically fast type, or a combination of fast TTX-sensitive and slow currents. In larger neurons the kinetically separable fast current had a greater sensitivity to the conditioning potential, i.e., a left-shifted steady-state inactivation curve.The different properties of the slow Na+ conductance in different neurons is likely to reflect heterogeneity of the structure of the underlying channel molecule. Although consistent with what others have found in equivalent preparations, this heterogeneity is far broader in scope than what has so far been described. We suggest that biosynthetic constraints within a given small neuron maintain ion channel uniformity.
The expression of voltage-gated sodium channels is regulated at multiple levels, and in this study we addressed the potential for alternative splicing of the Nav1.2, Nav1.3, Nav1.6 and Nav1.7 mRNAs. We isolated novel mRNA isoforms of Nav1.2 and Nav1.3 from adult mouse and rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG), Nav1.3 and Nav1.7 from adult mouse brain, and Nav1.7 from neonatal rat brain. These alternatively spliced isoforms introduce an additional exon (Nav1.2 exon 17A and topologically equivalent Nav1.7 exon 16A) or exon pair (Nav1.3 exons 17A and 17B) that contain an in-frame stop codon and result in predicted two-domain, truncated proteins. The mouse and rat orthologous exon sequences are highly conserved (94-100% identities), as are the paralogous Nav1.2 and Nav1.3 exons (93% identity in mouse) to which the Nav1.7 exon has only 60% identity. Previously, Nav1.3 mRNA has been shown to be upregulated in rat DRG following peripheral nerve injury, unlike the downregulation of all other sodium channel transcripts. Here we show that the expression of Nav1.3 mRNA containing exons 17A and 17B is unchanged in mouse following peripheral nerve injury (axotomy), whereas total Nav1.3 mRNA expression is upregulated by 33% (P=0.003), suggesting differential regulation of the alternatively spliced transcripts. The alternatively spliced rodent exon sequences are highly conserved in both the human and chicken genomes, with 77-89% and 72-76% identities to mouse, respectively. The widespread conservation of these sequences strongly suggests an additional level of regulation in the expression of these channels, that is also tissue-specific.
DRG; brain; alternative splicing; Scn2a; Scn3a; Scn9a
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.
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.
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.
Mechanotransduction; Sodium channels; Pain; Nav1.7; Nav1.8; ENaCs
The voltage-activated sodium (Nav) channel Nav1.9 is expressed in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons where it is believed to play an important role in nociception. Progress in revealing the functional properties and pharmacological sensitivities of this non-canonical Nav channel has been slow because attempts to express this channel in a heterologous expression system have been unsuccessful. Here, we use a protein engineering approach to dissect the contributions of the four Nav1.9 voltage sensors to channel function and pharmacology. We define individual S3b–S4 paddle motifs within each voltage sensor, and show that they can sense changes in membrane voltage and drive voltage sensor activation when transplanted into voltage-activated potassium channels. We also find that the paddle motifs in Nav1.9 are targeted by animal toxins, and that these toxins alter Nav1.9-mediated currents in DRG neurons. Our results demonstrate that slowly activating and inactivating Nav1.9 channels have functional and pharmacological properties in common with canonical Nav channels, but also show distinctive pharmacological sensitivities that can potentially be exploited for developing novel treatments for pain.
Recent studies revealed that ralfinamide, a Na+ channel blocker, suppressed tetrodotoxin-resistant Na+ currents in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and reduced pain reactions in animal models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Here, we investigated the effects of ralfinamide on Na+ currents; firing properties and action potential (AP) parameters in capsaicin-responsive and -unresponsive DRG neurons from adult rats in the presence of TTX (0.5 μM). Ralfinamide inhibited TTX-resistant Na+ currents in a frequency and voltage dependent manner. Small to medium sized neurons exhibited different firing properties during prolonged depolarizing current pulses (600 ms). One group of neurons fired multiple spikes (tonic), while another group fired four or less APs (phasic). In capsaicin-responsive tonic firing neurons, ralfinamide (25 μM) reduced the number of APs from 10.6 ± 1.8 to 2.6 ± 0.7 APs/600ms, whereas in capsaicin-unresponsive tonic neurons the drug did not significantly change firing (8.4 ± 0.9 in control to 6.6 ± 2.0 APs/600ms). In capsaicin-responsive phasic neurons, substance P and 4-aminopyridine induced multiple spikes, an effect that was reversed by ralfinamide (25 μM). In addition to effects on firing, ralfinamide increased the threshold, decreased the overshoot, and increased the rate of rise of the AP.
To conclude, ralfinamide suppressed afferent hyperexcitability selectively in capsaicin-responsive, presumably nociceptive neurons, but had no measurable effects on firing in CAPS-unresponsive neurons. The action of ralfinamide to selectively inhibit tonic firing in nociceptive neurons very likely contributes to the effectiveness of the drug in reducing inflammatory and neuropathic pain as well as bladder overactivity.
Na+ currents; firing; dorsal root ganglia; capsaicin; nociceptive neurons; tetrodotoxin
The human genome encodes nine functional voltage-gated Na+ channels. Three of them, namely Nav1.5, Nav1.8, and Nav1.9, are resistant to nanomolar concentrations of tetrodotoxin (TTX; IC50 ≥ 1 μM). The other isoforms, which are predominantly expressed in the skeletal muscle and nervous system, are highly sensitive to TTX (IC50 ~ 10 nM). During the last two decades, it has become evident that in addition to the major cardiac isoform Nav1.5, several of those TTX sensitive isoforms are expressed in the mammalian heart. Whereas immunohistochemical and electrophysiological methods demonstrated functional expression in various heart regions, the physiological importance of those isoforms for cardiac excitation in higher mammals is still debated. This review summarizes our knowledge on the systemic cardiovascular effects of TTX in animals and humans, with a special focus on cardiac excitation and performance at lower concentrations of this marine drug. Altogether, these data strongly suggest that TTX sensitive Na+ channels, detected more recently in various heart tissues, are not involved in excitation phenomena in the healthy adult heart of higher mammals.
Na+ channel; TTX sensitivity; cardiac conduction; TTX poisoning