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1.  P2Y Receptors Sensitize Mouse and Human Colonic Nociceptors 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2016;36(8):2364-2376.
Activation of visceral nociceptors by inflammatory mediators contributes to visceral hypersensitivity and abdominal pain associated with many gastrointestinal disorders. Purine and pyrimidine nucleotides (e.g., ATP and UTP) are strongly implicated in this process following their release from epithelial cells during mechanical stimulation of the gut, and from immune cells during inflammation. Actions of ATP are mediated through both ionotropic P2X receptors and metabotropic P2Y receptors. P2X receptor activation causes excitation of visceral afferents; however, the impact of P2Y receptor activation on visceral afferents innervating the gut is unclear. Here we investigate the effects of stimulating P2Y receptors in isolated mouse colonic sensory neurons, and visceral nociceptor fibers in mouse and human nerve-gut preparations. Additionally, we investigate the role of Nav1.9 in mediating murine responses. The application of UTP (P2Y2 and P2Y4 agonist) sensitized colonic sensory neurons by increasing action potential firing to current injection and depolarizing the membrane potential. The application of ADP (P2Y1, P2Y12, and P2Y13 agonist) also increased action potential firing, an effect blocked by the selective P2Y1 receptor antagonist MRS2500. UTP or ADP stimulated afferents, including mouse and human visceral nociceptors, in nerve-gut preparations. P2Y1 and P2Y2 transcripts were detected in 80% and 56% of retrogradely labeled colonic neurons, respectively. Nav1.9 transcripts colocalized in 86% of P2Y1-positive and 100% of P2Y2-positive colonic neurons, consistent with reduced afferent fiber responses to UTP and ADP in Nav1.9−/− mice. These data demonstrate that P2Y receptor activation stimulates mouse and human visceral nociceptors, highlighting P2Y-dependent mechanisms in the generation of visceral pain during gastrointestinal disease.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Chronic visceral pain is a debilitating symptom of many gastrointestinal disorders. The activation of pain-sensing nerves located in the bowel wall and their sensitization to physiological stimuli, including bowel movements, underpins the development of such pain, and is associated with mediators released during disease. This work addresses the unstudied role of purine and pyrimidine nucleotides in modulating colonic nociceptors via P2Y receptors using a combination of electrophysiological recordings from human ex vivo samples and a detailed functional study in the mouse. This is the first report to identify colonic purinergic signaling as a function of P2Y receptor activation, in addition to established P2X receptor activity, and the results contribute to our understanding of the development of visceral pain during gastrointestinal disease.
PMCID: PMC4764659  PMID: 26911685
ATP; Nav1.9; nociceptor; P2Y receptors; purinergic signaling; visceral pain
2.  Multiple roles for NaV1.9 in the activation of visceral afferents by noxious inflammatory, mechanical, and human disease–derived stimuli 
Pain  2014;155(10):1962-1975.
NaV1.9 regulates normal colonic afferent mechanosensation and is required for hypersensitivity to noxious inflammatory mediators and those derived from inflammatory bowel disease tissues.
Chronic visceral pain affects millions of individuals worldwide and remains poorly understood, with current therapeutic options constrained by gastrointestinal adverse effects. Visceral pain is strongly associated with inflammation and distension of the gut. Here we report that the voltage-gated sodium channel subtype NaV1.9 is expressed in half of gut-projecting rodent dorsal root ganglia sensory neurons. We show that NaV1.9 is required for normal mechanosensation, for direct excitation and for sensitization of mouse colonic afferents by mediators from inflammatory bowel disease tissues, and by noxious inflammatory mediators individually. Excitatory responses to ATP or PGE2 were substantially reduced in NaV1.9−/− mice. Deletion of NaV1.9 substantially attenuates excitation and subsequent mechanical hypersensitivity after application of inflammatory soup (IS) (bradykinin, ATP, histamine, PGE2, and 5HT) to visceral nociceptors located in the serosa and mesentery. Responses to mechanical stimulation of mesenteric afferents were also reduced by loss of NaV1.9, and there was a rightward shift in stimulus–response function to ramp colonic distension. By contrast, responses to rapid, high-intensity phasic distension of the colon are initially unaffected; however, run-down of responses to repeat phasic distension were exacerbated in NaV1.9−/− afferents. Finally colonic afferent activation by supernatants derived from inflamed human tissue was greatly reduced in NaV1.9−/− mice. These results demonstrate that NaV1.9 is required for persistence of responses to intense mechanical stimulation, contributes to inflammatory mechanical hypersensitivity, and is essential for activation by noxious inflammatory mediators, including those from diseased human bowel. These observations indicate that NaV1.9 represents a high-value target for development of visceral analgesics.
PMCID: PMC4220011  PMID: 24972070
Distal colon; Inflammatory bowel disease; NaV1.9; Nociceptor sensitivity; Noxious distension; Supernatants; Visceral hypersensitivity; Visceral pain; Voltage-gated sodium channel
3.  Neuroprotection in a Novel Mouse Model of Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79188.
Multiple sclerosis is an immune-mediated, demyelinating and neurodegenerative disease that currently lacks any neuroprotective treatments. Innovative neuroprotective trial designs are required to hasten the translational process of drug development. An ideal target to monitor the efficacy of strategies aimed at treating multiple sclerosis is the visual system, which is the most accessible part of the human central nervous system. A novel C57BL/6 mouse line was generated that expressed transgenes for a myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein-specific T cell receptor and a retinal ganglion cell restricted-Thy1 promoter-controlled cyan fluorescent protein. This model develops spontaneous or induced optic neuritis, in the absence of paralytic disease normally associated with most rodent autoimmune models of multiple sclerosis. Demyelination and neurodegeneration could be monitored longitudinally in the living animal using electrophysiology, visual sensitivity, confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy and optical coherence tomography all of which are relevant to human trials. This model offers many advantages, from a 3Rs, economic and scientific perspective, over classical experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis models that are associated with substantial suffering of animals. Optic neuritis in this model led to inflammatory damage of axons in the optic nerve and subsequent loss of retinal ganglion cells in the retina. This was inhibited by the systemic administration of a sodium channel blocker (oxcarbazepine) or intraocular treatment with siRNA targeting caspase-2. These novel approaches have relevance to the future treatment of neurodegeneration of MS, which has so far evaded treatment.
PMCID: PMC3817036  PMID: 24223903
4.  Correction: Association between Tetrodotoxin Resistant Channels and Lipid Rafts Regulates Sensory Neuron Excitability 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):10.1371/annotation/55db09f9-cce9-44cc-8501-5f97d1d1e6a1.
PMCID: PMC3651323
5.  Neurological perspectives on voltage-gated sodium channels 
Brain  2012;135(9):2585-2612.
The activity of voltage-gated sodium channels has long been linked to disorders of neuronal excitability such as epilepsy and chronic pain. Recent genetic studies have now expanded the role of sodium channels in health and disease, to include autism, migraine, multiple sclerosis, cancer as well as muscle and immune system disorders. Transgenic mouse models have proved useful in understanding the physiological role of individual sodium channels, and there has been significant progress in the development of subtype selective inhibitors of sodium channels. This review will outline the functions and roles of specific sodium channels in electrical signalling and disease, focusing on neurological aspects. We also discuss recent advances in the development of selective sodium channel inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3437034  PMID: 22961543
ion channel; genetics; pain; epilepsy; SCN1A
6.  Association between Tetrodotoxin Resistant Channels and Lipid Rafts Regulates Sensory Neuron Excitability 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e40079.
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.
PMCID: PMC3411591  PMID: 22870192
7.  20-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic Acid (20-HETE) Is a Novel Activator of Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) Channel* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(17):13868-13876.
Background: The P450 arachidonic acid metabolite, 20-HETE, is potently vasoactive and structurally related to known TRPV1 agonists.
Results: 20-HETE activates native murine and heterologously expressed human TRPV1, and sensitizes both wild-type and the hTRPV1 S502A mutant to stimulation by capsaicin and acidic pH.
Conclusion: 20-HETE is a novel potential endogenous activator of TRPV1.
Significance: The biological activity of 20-HETE may be partly mediated by its action on TRPV1.
TRPV1 is a member of the transient receptor potential ion channel family and is gated by capsaicin, the pungent component of chili pepper. It is expressed predominantly in small diameter peripheral nerve fibers and is activated by noxious temperatures >42 °C. 20-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (20-HETE) is a cytochrome P-450 4A/4F-derived metabolite of the membrane phospholipid arachidonic acid. It is a powerful vasoconstrictor and has structural similarities with other TRPV1 agonists, e.g. the hydroperoxyeicosatetraenoic acid 12-HPETE, and we hypothesized that it may be an endogenous ligand for TRPV1 in sensory neurons innervating the vasculature. Here, we demonstrate that 20-HETE both activates and sensitizes mouse and human TRPV1, in a kinase-dependent manner, involving the residue Ser502 in heterologously expressed hTRPV1, at physiologically relevant concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3340178  PMID: 22389490
Arachidonic Acid; Neurons; Patch Clamp; Protein Expression; TRP Channels; Sensory Neuron
8.  In vitro and intrathecal siRNA mediated KV1.1 knock-down in primary sensory neurons 
Molecular and Cellular Neurosciences  2011;48(3-3):258-265.
KV1.1 is a Shaker homologue K+ channel that contributes to the juxta-paranodal membrane conductance in myelinated axons, and is blocked by fampridine (4-aminopyridine), used to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The present experiments investigate KV1.1 function in primary sensory neurons and A-fibres, and help define its characteristics as a drug-target using sequence specific small-interfering RNAs (siRNAs). siRNA (71 nM) was used to knock-down functional expression of KV1.1 in sensory neurons (> 25 μm in apparent diameter) in culture, and was also delivered intrathecally in vivo (9.3 μg). K+ channel knock-down in sensory neurons was found to make the voltage-threshold for action potential generation significantly more negative than in control (p = 0.02), led to the breakdown of accommodation and promoted spontaneous action potential firing. Exposure to dendrotoxin-K (DTX-K, 10–100 nM) also selectively abolished K+ currents at negative potentials and made voltage-threshold more negative, consistent with KV1.1 controlling excitability close to the nominal resting potential of the neuron cell body, near − 60 mV. Introduction of one working siRNA sequence into the intrathecal space in vivo was associated with a small increase in the amplitude of the depolarising after-potential in sacral spinal roots (p < 0.02), suggesting a reduction in the number of working K+ channels in internodal axon membrane. Our study provides evidence that KV1.1 contributes to the control of peripheral sensory nerve excitability, and suggests that its characteristics as a putative drug target can be assessed by siRNA transfection in primary sensory neurons in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3240745  PMID: 21903165
Sensory neuron; Axon; Potassium channel; Dendrotoxin-K; RNA interference; QPCR
9.  A multi PDZ-domain protein Pdzd2 contributes to functional expression of sensory neuron-specific sodium channel NaV1.8 
The voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.8 is expressed exclusively in nociceptive sensory neurons and plays an important role in pain pathways. NaV1.8 cannot be functionally expressed in non-neuronal cells even in the presence of β-subunits. We have previously identified Pdzd2, a multi PDZ-domain protein, as a potential interactor for NaV1.8. Here we report that Pdzd2 binds directly to the intracellular loops of NaV1.8 and NaV1.7. The endogenous NaV1.8 current in sensory neurons is inhibited by antisense- and siRNA-mediated downregulation of Pdzd2. However, no marked change in pain behaviours is observed in Pdzd2-decificent mice. This may be due to compensatory upregulation of p11, another regulatory factor for NaV1.8, in dorsal root ganglia of Pdzd2-deficient mice. These findings reveal that Pdzd2 and p11 play collaborative roles in regulation of NaV1.8 expression in sensory neurons.
PMCID: PMC2764382  PMID: 19607921
10.  Nerve injury induces robust allodynia and ectopic discharges in Nav1.3 null mutant mice 
Molecular Pain  2006;2:33.
Changes in sodium channel activity and neuronal hyperexcitability contribute to neuropathic pain, a major clinical problem. There is strong evidence that the re-expression of the embryonic voltage-gated sodium channel subunit Nav1.3 underlies neuronal hyperexcitability and neuropathic pain.
Here we show that acute and inflammatory pain behaviour is unchanged in global Nav1.3 mutant mice. Surprisingly, neuropathic pain also developed normally in the Nav1.3 mutant mouse. To rule out any genetic compensation mechanisms that may have masked the phenotype, we investigated neuropathic pain in two conditional Nav1.3 mutant mouse lines. We used Nav1.8-Cre mice to delete Nav1.3 in nociceptors at E14 and NFH-Cre mice to delete Nav1.3 throughout the nervous system postnatally. Again normal levels of neuropathic pain developed after nerve injury in both lines. Furthermore, ectopic discharges from damaged nerves were unaffected by the absence of Nav1.3 in global knock-out mice. Our data demonstrate that Nav1.3 is neither necessary nor sufficient for the development of nerve-injury related pain.
PMCID: PMC1630424  PMID: 17052333
11.  Cis-acting regulatory sequences promote high-frequency gene conversion between repeated sequences in mammalian cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(19):5916-5927.
In mammalian cells, little is known about the nature of recombination-prone regions of the genome. Previously, we reported that the immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) μ locus behaved as a hotspot for mitotic, intrachromosomal gene conversion (GC) between repeated μ constant (Cμ) regions in mouse hybridoma cells. To investigate whether elements within the μ gene regulatory region were required for hotspot activity, gene targeting was used to delete a 9.1 kb segment encompassing the μ gene promoter (Pμ), enhancer (Eμ) and switch region (Sμ) from the locus. In these cell lines, GC between the Cμ repeats was significantly reduced, indicating that this ‘recombination-enhancing sequence’ (RES) is necessary for GC hotspot activity at the IgH locus. Importantly, the RES fragment stimulated GC when appended to the same Cμ repeats integrated at ectopic genomic sites. We also show that deletion of Eμ and flanking matrix attachment regions (MARs) from the RES abolishes GC hotspot activity at the IgH locus. However, no stimulation of ectopic GC was observed with the Eμ/MARs fragment alone. Finally, we provide evidence that no correlation exists between the level of transcription and GC promoted by the RES. We suggest a model whereby Eμ/MARS enhances mitotic GC at the endogenous IgH μ locus by effecting chromatin modifications in adjacent DNA.
PMCID: PMC528808  PMID: 15528639
12.  Gene repeat expansion and contraction by spontaneous intrachromosomal homologous recombination in mammalian cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(3):1184-1196.
Homologous recombination (HR) is important in repairing errors of replication and other forms of DNA damage. In mammalian cells, potential templates include the homologous chromosome, and after DNA replication, the sister chromatid. Previous work has shown that the mammalian recombination machinery is organized to suppress interchromosomal recombination while preserving intrachromosomal HR. In the present study, we investigated spontaneous intrachromosomal HR in mouse hybridoma cell lines in which variously numbered tandem repeats of the µ heavy chain constant (Cµ) region reside at the haploid, chromosomal immunoglobulin µ heavy chain locus. This organization provides the opportunity to investigate recombination between homologous gene repeats in a well-defined chromosomal locus under conditions in which recombinants are conveniently recovered. This system revealed several features about the mammalian intrachromosomal HR process: (i) the frequency of HR was high (recombinants represented as much as several percent of the total of recombinants and non-recombinants); (ii) the recombination process appeared to be predominantly non-reciprocal, consistent with the possibility of gene conversion; (iii) putative gene conversion tracts were long (up to 13.4 kb); (iv) the recombination process occurred with precision, initiating and terminating within regions of shared homology. The results are discussed with respect to mammalian intrachromosomal HR involving interactions both within and between sister chromatids.
PMCID: PMC373412  PMID: 14978260
13.  Evidence for Biased Holliday Junction Cleavage and Mismatch Repair Directed by Junction Cuts during Double-Strand-Break Repair in Mammalian Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2001;21(10):3425-3435.
In mammalian cells, several features of the way homologous recombination occurs between transferred and chromosomal DNA are consistent with the double-strand-break repair (DSBR) model of recombination. In this study, we examined the segregation patterns of small palindrome markers, which frequently escape mismatch repair when encompassed within heteroduplex DNA formed in vivo during mammalian homologous recombination, to test predictions of the DSBR model, in particular as they relate to the mechanism of crossover resolution. According to the canonical DSBR model, crossover between the vector and chromosome results from cleavage of the joint molecule in two alternate sense modes. The two crossover modes lead to different predicted marker configurations in the recombinants, and assuming no bias in the mode of Holliday junction cleavage, the two types of recombinants are expected in equal frequency. However, we propose a revision to the canonical model, as our results suggest that the mode of crossover resolution is biased in favor of cutting the DNA strands upon which DNA synthesis is occurring during formation of the joint molecule. The bias in junction resolution permitted us to examine the potential consequences of mismatch repair acting on the DNA breaks generated by junction cutting. The combination of biased junction resolution with both early and late rounds of mismatch repair can explain the marker patterns in the recombinants.
PMCID: PMC100264  PMID: 11313468
14.  Selective block of late Na+ current by local anaesthetics in rat large sensory neurones 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2000;129(8):1617-1626.
The actions of lignocaine and benzocaine on transient and late Na+ current generated by large diameter (⩾50 μm) adult rat dorsal root ganglion neurones, were studied using patch-clamp techniques.Both drugs blocked whole-cell late Na+ current in a concentration-dependent manner. At 200 ms following the onset of a clamp step from −110 to −40 mV, the apparent K for block of late Na+ current by lignocaine was 57.8±15 μM (mean±s.e.mean, n=4). The value for benzocaine was 24.9±3.3 μM, (mean±s.e.mean, n=3).The effect of lignocaine on transient current, in randomly selected neurones, appeared variable (n=8, half-block from ∼50 to 400 μM). Half-block by benzocaine was not attained, but both whole-cell (n=11) and patch data suggested a high apparent K,>250 μM. Transient current always remained after late current was blocked.The voltage-dependence of residual late current steady-state inactivation was not shifted by 20 μM benzocaine (n=3), whereas 200 μM benzocaine shifted the voltage-dependence of transient current steady-state inactivation by −18.7±5.9 mV (mean±s.e.mean, n=4).In current-clamp, benzocaine (250 μM) could block subthreshold, voltage-dependent inward current, increasing the threshold for eliciting action potentials, without preventing their generation (n=2).Block of late Na+ current by systemic local anaesthetic may play a part in preventing ectopic impulse generation in sensory neurones.
PMCID: PMC1572015  PMID: 10780966
Patch-clamp; Na+ channel; local anaesthetic; sensory neurone
15.  The Mechanism of Mammalian Gene Replacement Is Consistent with the Formation of Long Regions of Heteroduplex DNA Associated with Two Crossing-Over Events 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2001;21(2):501-510.
In this study, the mechanism of mammalian gene replacement was investigated. The system is based on detecting homologous recombination between transferred vector DNA and the haploid, chromosomal immunoglobulin μ-δ region in a murine hybridoma cell line. The backbone of the gene replacement vector (pCμCδpal) consists of pSV2neo sequences bounded on one side by homology to the μ gene constant (Cμ) region and on the other side by homology to the δ gene constant (Cδ) region. The Cμ and Cδ flanking arms of homology were marked by insertions of an identical 30-bp palindrome which frequently escapes mismatch repair when in heteroduplex DNA (hDNA). As a result, intermediates bearing unrepaired hDNA generate mixed (sectored) recombinants following DNA replication and cell division. To monitor the presence and position of sectored sites and, hence, hDNA formation during the recombination process, the palindrome contained a unique NotI site that replaced an endogenous restriction enzyme site at each marker position in the vector-borne Cμ and Cδ regions. Gene replacement was studied under conditions which permitted the efficient recovery of the product(s) of individual recombination events. Analysis of marker segregation patterns in independent recombinants revealed that extensive hDNA was formed within the Cμ and Cδ regions. In several recombinants, palindrome markers in the Cμ and Cδ regions resided on opposite DNA strands (trans configuration). These results are consistent with the mammalian gene replacement reaction involving two crossing-over events in homologous flanking DNA.
PMCID: PMC86609  PMID: 11134338

Results 1-15 (15)