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1.  The generation of knock-in mice expressing fluorescently tagged galanin receptors 1 and 2 
The neuropeptide galanin has diverse roles in the central and peripheral nervous systems, by activating the G protein-coupled receptors Gal1, Gal2 and the less studied Gal3 (GalR1–3 gene products). There is a wealth of data on expression of Gal1–3 at the mRNA level, but not at the protein level due to the lack of specificity of currently available antibodies. Here we report the generation of knock-in mice expressing Gal1 or Gal2 receptor fluorescently tagged at the C-terminus with, respectively, mCherry or hrGFP (humanized Renilla green fluorescent protein). In dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons expressing the highest levels of Gal1-mCherry, localization to the somatic cell membrane was detected by live-cell fluorescence and immunohistochemistry, and that fluorescence decreased upon addition of galanin. In spinal cord, abundant Gal1-mCherry immunoreactive processes were detected in the superficial layers of the dorsal horn, and highly expressing intrinsic neurons of the lamina III/IV border showed both somatic cell membrane localization and outward transport of receptor from the cell body, detected as puncta within cell processes. In brain, high levels of Gal1-mCherry immunofluorescence were detected within thalamus, hypothalamus and amygdala, with a high density of nerve endings in the external zone of the median eminence, and regions with lesser immunoreactivity included the dorsal raphe nucleus. Gal2-hrGFP mRNA was detected in DRG, but live-cell fluorescence was at the limits of detection, drawing attention to both the much lower mRNA expression than to Gal1 in mice and the previously unrecognized potential for translational control by upstream open reading frames (uORFs).
•We generated knock-in mice expressing fluorescently tagged galanin receptors 1 and 2.•Gal1-mCherry fluorescence was associated with primary neuron somatic cell membrane.•Gal1-mCherry protein expression in DRG, spinal cord and brain tissues is described.•Gal2 mRNA expression is much lower than Gal1 in dorsal root ganglia.•We propose that upstream open reading frames influence Gal2 protein expression.
PMCID: PMC4604734  PMID: 26292267
AOTF, acousto-optic tunable filter; BAC, bacterial artificial chromosome; CDS, coding sequence; CMV, cytomegalovirus; DOR, δ-opioid receptor; DR, dorsal raphe nucleus; DRG, dorsal root ganglia; EGFP, enhanced green fluorescent protein; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; ES cell, embryonic stem cell; FRT sites, FLP recombination target sites; GALP, galanin-like peptide; Gapdh, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase; GFP, green fluorescent protein; GPCRs, G protein-coupled receptors; hrGFP, humanized Renilla green fluorescent protein; ISH, in situ hybridization; LSN, lateral spinal nucleus; ME, median eminence; NPY, neuropeptide Y; nt, nucleotides; RNA-seq, next generation RNA sequencing; RT-PCR, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction; TSA, tyramide signal amplification; UTR, untranslated region; uORFs, upstream open reading frames; GalR1; GalR2; Dorsal root ganglion; Spinal cord; Brain; uORF
2.  Galanin negatively modulates opiate withdrawal via galanin receptor 1 
Psychopharmacology  2011;220(3):619-625.
The neuropeptide galanin has been shown to modulate opiate dependence and withdrawal. These effects could be mediated via activation of one or more of three distinct G-protein coupled receptors, namely GalR1, GalR2 and GalR3.
In this study, we used several transgenic mouse lines to further define the mechanisms underlying the role played by galanin and its receptors in the modulation of morphine dependence. Firstly, transgenic mice expressing β-galactosidase under the control of the galanin promoter were used to assess the regulation of galanin expression in response to chronic morphine administration and withdrawal. Next, the behavioural responses to chronic morphine administration and withdrawal were tested in mice that over-express galanin, lack the GalR1 gene or lack the GalR2 gene.
Transgenic and matched wild-type mice were given increasing doses of morphine followed by precipitation of withdrawal by naloxone and behavioral responses to withdrawal assessed.
Both morphine administration and withdrawal increases galanin gene transcription in the locus coerulus (LC). Increasing galanin levels in the brain reduced signs of opiate withdrawal. Mice lacking GalR1 undergo more severe opiate withdrawal, whereas mice lacking GalR2 show no significant difference in withdrawal signs, compare to matched wild type controls.
Opiate administration and withdrawal increase galanin expression in the LC. Galanin opposes the actions of morphine which lead to opiate dependence and withdrawal, an effect that is mediated via GalR1.
PMCID: PMC3324978  PMID: 21969124
Galanin; galanin receptor 1; mouse; opiate; addiction; withdrawal; locus coeruleus
3.  Galanin-expression and galanin-dependent sensory neurons are not required for itch 
Molecular Pain  2012;8:87.
Galanin is a key modulator of nociception, and it is also required for the developmental survival of a subset of C-fibre sensory neurons which are critical to the mediation of neuropathic and inflammatory pain. However, the potential modulatory roles played by galanin, or the galanin-dependent neurons, in pruritoceptive mechanisms underlying the sensation of itch have not been investigated.
Here we report that mice carrying a loss-of-function mutation in the galanin gene (Gal-KO) show no differences in spontaneous behavioural itch responses compared to wild-type (WT) controls. Similarly, the responses to a range of pruritogens are not significantly different between the two genotypes.
These results suggest that neither galanin expression, nor the galanin-dependent subpopulation of sensory neurons is required for itch-related behaviours.
PMCID: PMC3545919  PMID: 23216829
Itch; Galanin; Pain
4.  Axotomy-Induced miR-21 Promotes Axon Growth in Adult Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23423.
Following injury, dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons undergo transcriptional changes so as to adopt phenotypic changes that promote cell survival and axonal regeneration. Here we used a microarray approach to profile changes in a population of small noncoding RNAs known as microRNAs (miRNAs) in the L4 and L5 DRG following sciatic nerve transection. Results showed that 20 miRNA transcripts displayed a significant change in expression levels, with 8 miRNAs transcripts being altered by more than 1.5-fold. Using quantitative reverse transcription PCR, we demonstrated that one of these miRNAs, miR-21, was upregulated by 7-fold in the DRG at 7 days post-axotomy. In dissociated adult rat DRG neurons lentiviral vector-mediated overexpression of miR-21 promoted neurite outgrowth on a reduced laminin substrate. miR-21 directly downregulated expression of Sprouty2 protein, as confirmed by Western blot analysis and 3′ untranslated region (UTR) luciferase assays. Our data show that miR-21 is an axotomy-induced miRNA that enhances axon growth, and suggest that miRNAs are important players in regulating growth pathways following peripheral nerve injury.
PMCID: PMC3154476  PMID: 21853131
5.  Endogenous Galanin Protects Mouse Hippocampal Neurons Against Amyloid Toxicity in vitro via Activation of Galanin Receptor-2 
Expression of the neuropeptide galanin is known to be upregulated in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We and others have shown that galanin plays a neuroprotective role in a number of excitotoxic injury paradigms, mediated by activation of the second galanin receptor subtype (GAL2). In the present study, we investigated whether galanin/GAL2 plays a similar protective role against amyloid-β(Aβ) toxicity. Here we report that galanin or the GAL2/3-specific peptide agonist Gal2-11, both equally protect primary dispersed mouse wildtype (WT) neonatal hippocampal neurons from 250 nM Aβ1–42 toxicity in a dose dependent manner. The amount of Aβ1–42 induced cell death was significantly greater in mice with loss-of-function mutations in galanin (Gal-KO) or GAL2 (GAL2-MUT) compared to strain-matched WT controls. Conversely, cell death was significantly reduced in galanin over-expressing (Gal-OE) transgenic mice compared to strain-matched WT controls. Exogenous galanin or Gal2-11 rescued the deficits in the Gal-KO but not the GAL2-MUT cultures, confirming that the protective effects of endogenous or exogenous galanin are mediated by activation of GAL2. Despite the high levels of endogenous galanin in the Gal-OE cultures, the addition of exogenous 100 nM or 50 nM galanin or 100 nM Gal2-11 further significantly reduced cell death, implying that GAL2-mediated neuroprotection is not at maximum in the Gal-OE mice. These data further support the hypothesis that galanin over-expression in AD is a neuroprotective response and imply that the development of a drug-like GAL2 agonist might reduce the progression of symptoms in patients with AD.
PMCID: PMC3145121  PMID: 21471641
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid toxicity; galanin; GAL2; neuroprotection; transgenic models
6.  Characterisation of the nociceptive phenotype of suppressible galanin overexpressing transgenic mice 
Molecular Pain  2010;6:67.
The neuropeptide galanin is widely expressed in both the central and peripheral nervous systems and is involved in many diverse biological functions. There is a substantial data set that demonstrates galanin is upregulated after injury in the DRG, spinal cord and in many brain regions where it plays a predominantly antinociceptive role in addition to being neuroprotective and pro-regenerative. To further characterise the role of galanin following nerve injury, a novel transgenic line was created using the binary transgenic tet-off system, to overexpress galanin in galaninergic tissue in a suppressible manner. The double transgenic mice express significantly more galanin in the DRG one week after sciatic nerve section (axotomy) compared to WT mice and this overexpression is suppressible upon administration of doxycycline. Phenotypic analysis revealed markedly attenuated allodynia when galanin is overexpressed and an increase in allodynia following galanin suppression. This novel transgenic line demonstrates that whether galanin expression is increased at the time of nerve injury or only after allodynia is established, the neuropeptide is able to reduce neuropathic pain behaviour. These new findings imply that administration of a galanin agonist to patients with established allodynia would be an effective treatment for neuropathic pain.
PMCID: PMC2978139  PMID: 20964829
7.  Intra-neural administration of fractalkine attenuates neuropathic pain-related behaviour 
Journal of neurochemistry  2008;106(2):640-649.
There is increasing evidence that a number of cytokines and their receptors are involved in the processes that lead to the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain states. Here we demonstrate that levels of CX3CR1 (the receptor for the chemokine fractalkine) mRNA in lumbar dorsal root ganglia (DRG) increase 5.8-fold 7 days after sciatic nerve axotomy, and 1.7- and 2.9-fold, 3 and 7 days respectively, after the spared nerve injury (SNI) model of neuropathic pain. In contrast, no significant change in the levels of fractalkine mRNA is apparent in the DRG after axotomy or SNI. The increase in CX3CR1 mRNA is paralleled by a 3.9- and 2.1-fold increase in the number of CX3CR1-positive macrophages in the DRG 7 days after axotomy and SNI, respectively. Expression of CX3CR1 in macrophages is also markedly increased in the sciatic nerve proximal to site of injury, by 25.7-fold after axotomy and 16.2-fold after SNI, 7 days after injury. Intra-neural injection into the sciatic nerve of 400 ng or 100 ng of fractalkine in adult 129OlaHsd mice significantly delayed the development of allodynia for 3 days following SNI. Further, CX3CR1 knockout (KO) mice display an increase in allodynia for three weeks after SNI compared to strain-matched Balb/c controls. Taken together, these results suggest an anti-allodynic role for fractalkine and its receptor in the mouse.
PMCID: PMC2726982  PMID: 18410510
CX3CL1; CX3CR1; dorsal root ganglia; fractalkine; nerve injury; neuropathic pain
8.  Characterization of an Enhancer Region of the Galanin Gene That Directs Expression to the Dorsal Root Ganglion and Confers Responsiveness to Axotomy 
Galanin expression markedly increases in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) after sciatic nerve axotomy and modulates pain behavior and regeneration of sensory neurons. Here, we describe transgenic mice expressing constructs with varying amounts of sequence upstream of the murine galanin gene marked by LacZ. The 20 kb region upstream of the galanin gene recapitulates the endogenous expression pattern of galanin in the embryonic and adult intact DRG and after axotomy. In contrast, 1.9 kb failed to drive LacZ expression in the intact DRG or after axotomy. However, the addition of an additional 2.7 kb of 5′ flanking DNA (4.6 kb construct) restored the expression in the embryonic DRG and in the adult after axotomy. Sequence analysis of this 2.7 kb region revealed unique 18 and 23 bp regions containing overlapping putative Ets-, Stat-, and Smad-binding sites, and adjacent putative Stat- and Smad-binding sites, respectively. Deletion of the 18 and 23 bp regions from the 4.6 kb construct abolished the upregulation of LacZ expression in the DRG after axotomy but did not affect expression in the embryonic or intact adult DRG. Also, a bioinformatic analysis of the upstream regions of a number of other axotomy-responsive genes demonstrated that the close proximity of putative Ets-, Stat-, and Smad-binding sites appears to be a common motif in injury-induced upregulation in gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2726636  PMID: 17567818
galanin; DRG; Ets; Stat; Smad; axotomy
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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

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