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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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 1-6 (6)