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1.  The expression of ELK transcription factors in adult DRG: novel isoforms, antisense transcripts and upregulation by nerve damage 
ELK transcription factors are expressed in brain, but it is unknown whether they are expressed in the peripheral nervous system. We show by RT-PCR that the previously described Elk1, Elk3/Elk3b/Elk3c and Elk4 mRNAs are expressed in adult dorsal root ganglia (DRG), together with the novel alternatively spliced isoforms Elk1b, Elk3d and Elk4c/Elk4d/Elk4e. These isoforms are also expressed in brain, heart, kidney and testis. In contrast to Elk3 protein, the novel Elk3d isoform is cytoplasmic, fails to bind ETS binding sites and yet can activate transcription by an indirect mechanism. The Elk3 and Elk4 genes are overlapped by co-expressed Pctk2 and Mfsd4 genes, respectively, with the potential formation of Elk3/Pctaire2 and Elk4/Mfsd4 sense-antisense mRNA heteroduplexes. After peripheral nerve injury the Elk3 mRNA isoforms are each upregulated ~2.3-fold in DRG (P<0.005), whereas the natural antisense Pctaire2 isoforms show only a small increase (21%, P<0.01) and Elk1 and Elk4 mRNAs are unchanged.
PMCID: PMC2862884  PMID: 20304071
Elk; Transcription factor; Dorsal root ganglia; Alternative splicing; Antisense mRNA; Axotomy
2.  The sodium channel Nav1.5a is the predominant isoform expressed in adult mouse dorsal root ganglia and exhibits distinct inactivation properties from the full-length Nav1.5 channel 
Nav1.5 is the principal voltage-gated sodium channel expressed in heart, and is also expressed at lower abundance in embryonic dorsal root ganglia (DRG) with little or no expression reported postnatally. We report here the expression of Nav1.5 mRNA isoforms in adult mouse and rat DRG. The major isoform of mouse DRG is Nav1.5a, which encodes a protein with an IDII/III cytoplasmic loop reduced by 53 amino acids. Western blot analysis of adult mouse DRG membrane proteins confirmed the expression of Nav1.5 protein. The Na+ current produced by the Nav1.5a isoform has a voltage-dependent inactivation significantly shifted to more negative potentials (by ~5 mV) compared to the full-length Nav1.5 when expressed in the DRG neuroblastoma cell line ND7/23. These results imply that the alternatively spliced exon 18 of Nav1.5 plays a role in channel inactivation and that Nav1.5a is likely to make a significant contribution to adult DRG neuronal function.
PMCID: PMC2726334  PMID: 17433712
3.  Mice deficient for galanin receptor 2 have decreased neurite outgrowth from adult sensory neurons and impaired pain-like behaviour 
Journal of neurochemistry  2006;99(3):1000-1010.
Expression of the neuropeptide galanin is markedly up-regulated within the adult dorsal root ganglia (DRG) following peripheral nerve injury. We have previously demonstrated that galanin knockout (Gal-KO) mice have a developmental loss of a subset of DRG neurons. Galanin also plays a trophic role in the adult animal, and the rate of peripheral nerve regeneration and neurite outgrowth is reduced in adult Gal-KO mice. Here we describe the characterization of mice with an absence of GalR2 gene transcription (GalR2-MUT) and demonstrate that they have a 15% decrease in the number of calcitonin generelated peptide (CGRP) expressing neuronal profiles in the adult DRG, associated with marked deficits in neuropathic and inflammatory pain behaviours. Adult GalR2-MUT animals also have a one third reduction in neurite outgrowth from cultured DRG neurons that cannot be rescued by either galanin or a high-affinity GalR2/3 agonist. Galanin activates extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and Akt in adult wild-type (WT) mouse DRG. Intact adult DRG from GalR2-MUT animals have lower levels of pERK and higher levels of pAkt than are found in WT controls. These data suggest that a lack of GalR2 activation in Gal-KO and GalR2-MUT animals is responsible for the observed developmental deficits in the DRG, and the decrease in neurite outgrowth in the adult.
PMCID: PMC2725756  PMID: 17076662
dorsal root ganglia; galanin; GalR2; neurite outgrowth; pain; signalling
4.  Galanin stimulates neurite outgrowth from sensory neurons by inhibition of Cdc42 and Rho GTPases and activation of cofilin 
Journal of Neurochemistry  2013;127(2):199-208.
We and others have previously shown that the neuropeptide galanin modulates neurite outgrowth from adult sensory neurons via activation of the second galanin receptor; however, the intracellular signalling pathways that mediate this neuritogenic effect have yet to be elucidated. Here, we demonstrate that galanin decreases the activation state in adult sensory neurons and PC12 cells of Rho and Cdc42 GTPases, both known regulators of filopodial and growth cone motility. Consistent with this, activated levels of Rho and Cdc42 levels are increased in the dorsal root ganglion of adult galanin knockout animals compared with wildtype controls. Furthermore, galanin markedly increases the activation state of cofilin, a downstream effector of many of the small GTPases, in the cell bodies and growth cones of sensory neurons and in PC12 cells. We also demonstrate a reduction in the activation of cofilin, and alteration in growth cone motility, in cultured galanin knockout neurons compared with wildtype controls. These data provide the first evidence that galanin regulates the Rho family of GTPases and cofilin to stimulate growth cone dynamics and neurite outgrowth in sensory neurons. These findings have important therapeutic implications for the treatment of peripheral sensory neuropathies.
PMCID: PMC3935412  PMID: 23895321
Cdc42; cofilin; DRG; galanin; Rho

Results 1-4 (4)