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1.  A painful neuropathy-associated Nav1.7 mutant leads to time-dependent degeneration of small-diameter axons associated with intracellular Ca2+ dysregulation and decrease in ATP levels 
Molecular Pain  2016;12:1744806916674472.
Small fiber neuropathy is a painful sensory nervous system disorder characterized by damage to unmyelinated C- and thinly myelinated Aδ- nerve fibers, clinically manifested by burning pain in the distal extremities and dysautonomia. The clinical onset in adulthood suggests a time-dependent process. The mechanisms that underlie nerve fiber injury in small fiber neuropathy are incompletely understood, although roles for energetic stress have been suggested. In the present study, we report time-dependent degeneration of neurites from dorsal root ganglia neurons in culture expressing small fiber neuropathy-associated G856D mutant Nav1.7 channels and demonstrate a time-dependent increase in intracellular calcium levels [Ca2+]i and reactive oxygen species, together with a decrease in ATP levels. Together with a previous clinical report of burning pain in the feet and hands associated with reduced levels of Na+/K+-ATPase in humans with high altitude sickness, the present results link energetic stress and reactive oxygen species production with the development of a painful neuropathy that preferentially affects small-diameter axons.
doi:10.1177/1744806916674472
PMCID: PMC5102167  PMID: 27821467
ATP; axon degeneration; mitochondria; peripheral neuropathy; reactive oxygen species; sodium-calcium exchanger; voltage-gated sodium channel
2.  A SCN10A SNP biases human pain sensitivity 
Molecular Pain  2016;12:1744806916666083.
Background:
Nav1.8 sodium channels, encoded by SCN10A, are preferentially expressed in nociceptive neurons and play an important role in human pain. Although rare gain-of-function variants in SCN10A have been identified in individuals with painful peripheral neuropathies, whether more common variants in SCN10A can have an effect at the channel level and at the dorsal root ganglion, neuronal level leading to a pain disorder or an altered normal pain threshold has not been determined.
Results:
Candidate single nucleotide polymorphism association approach together with experimental pain testing in human subjects was used to explore possible common SCN10A missense variants that might affect human pain sensitivity. We demonstrated an association between rs6795970 (G > A; p.Ala1073Val) and higher thresholds for mechanical pain in a discovery cohort (496 subjects) and confirmed it in a larger replication cohort (1005 female subjects). Functional assessments showed that although the minor allele shifts channel activation by −4.3 mV, a proexcitatory attribute, it accelerates inactivation, an antiexcitatory attribute, with the net effect being reduced repetitive firing of dorsal root ganglion neurons, consistent with lower mechanical pain sensitivity.
Conclusions:
At the association and mechanistic levels, the SCN10A single nucleotide polymorphism rs6795970 biases human pain sensitivity.
doi:10.1177/1744806916666083
PMCID: PMC5011395  PMID: 27590072
Nav1.8; dorsal root ganglion; pain; voltage-gated sodium channel
3.  A Gain-of-Function Mutation in Nav1.6 in a Case of Trigeminal Neuralgia 
Molecular Medicine  2016;22:338-348.
Idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a debilitating pain disorder characterized by episodic unilateral facial pain along the territory of branches of the trigeminal nerve. Human pain disorders, but not TN, have been linked to gain-of-function mutations in peripheral voltage-gated sodium channels (NaV1.7, NaV1.8 and NaV1.9). Gain-of-function mutations in NaV1.6, which is expressed in myelinated and unmyelinated central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system neurons and supports neuronal high-frequency firing, have been linked to epilepsy but not to pain. Here, we describe an individual who presented with evoked and spontaneous paroxysmal unilateral facial pain and carried a diagnosis of TN. Magnetic resonance imaging showed unilateral neurovascular compression, consistent with pain in areas innervated by the second branch of the trigeminal nerve. Genetic analysis as part of a phase 2 clinical study in patients with TN conducted by Convergence Pharmaceuticals Ltd revealed a previously undescribed de novo missense mutation in NaV1.6 (c.A406G; p.Met136Val). Whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings show that the Met136Val mutation significantly increases peak current density (1.5-fold) and resurgent current (1.6-fold) without altering gating properties. Current-clamp studies in trigeminal ganglia (TRG) neurons showed that Met136Val increased the fraction of high-firing neurons, lowered the current threshold and increased the frequency of evoked action potentials in response to graded stimuli. Our results demonstrate a novel NaV1.6 mutation in TN, and show that this mutation potentiates transient and resurgent sodium currents and leads to increased excitability in TRG neurons. We suggest that this gain-of-function NaV1.6 mutation may exacerbate the pathophysiology of vascular compression and contribute to TN.
doi:10.2119/molmed.2016.00131
PMCID: PMC5023517  PMID: 27496104
4.  Dynamics of sodium channel Nav 1.5 expression in astrocytes in mouse models of multiple sclerosis 
Neuroreport  2014;25(15):1208-1215.
Astrocytes actively participate in the central nervous system (CNS) response to injury, including in multiple sclerosis (MS). Astrocytes can play both beneficial and detrimental roles in response to neuroinflammation, however in extreme cases astrogliosis can result in the formation of a glial scar, which can impede the regeneration of injured neurons. While astrocytes do not express voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.5 in nonpathological human brain, they exhibit robust upregulation of Nav1.5 within acute and chronic MS lesions. Recent work indicates that Nav1.5 contributes to the pathways that regulate glial scar formation in vitro via modulation of intracellular Ca2+. However, the temporal dynamics of astrocytic Nav1.5 channel expression in response to neuroinflammatory pathologies have not been investigated. We examined astrocytes from mice with monophasic and chronicrelapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) by immunohistochemistry to determine whether Nav1.5 is expressed in these cells, and whether the expression correlates with severity of disease and/or phases of relapse and remission. Our results demonstrate that Nav1.5 is upregulated in astrocytes in situ in a temporal manner that correlates with disease severity in both monophasic and chronic-relapsing EAE. Furthermore, in chronic-relapsing EAE, Nav1.5 expression is upregulated during relapses and subsequently attenuated during periods of remission. These observations are consistent with the suggestion that Nav1.5 can play a role in the response of astrocytes to inflammatory pathologies in the CNS and suggest Nav1.5 may be a potential therapeutic target to modulate reactive astrogliosis in vivo.
doi:10.1097/WNR.0000000000000249
PMCID: PMC4159404  PMID: 25144393
Astrogliosis; experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; multiple sclerosis; sodium channels
5.  Subtype-Selective Small Molecule Inhibitors Reveal a Fundamental Role for Nav1.7 in Nociceptor Electrogenesis, Axonal Conduction and Presynaptic Release 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(4):e0152405.
Human genetic studies show that the voltage gated sodium channel 1.7 (Nav1.7) is a key molecular determinant of pain sensation. However, defining the Nav1.7 contribution to nociceptive signalling has been hampered by a lack of selective inhibitors. Here we report two potent and selective arylsulfonamide Nav1.7 inhibitors; PF-05198007 and PF-05089771, which we have used to directly interrogate Nav1.7’s role in nociceptor physiology. We report that Nav1.7 is the predominant functional TTX-sensitive Nav in mouse and human nociceptors and contributes to the initiation and the upstroke phase of the nociceptor action potential. Moreover, we confirm a role for Nav1.7 in influencing synaptic transmission in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord as well as peripheral neuropeptide release in the skin. These findings demonstrate multiple contributions of Nav1.7 to nociceptor signalling and shed new light on the relative functional contribution of this channel to peripheral and central noxious signal transmission.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0152405
PMCID: PMC4822888  PMID: 27050761
6.  Voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.5 contributes to astrogliosis in an in vitro model of glial injury via reverse Na+/Ca2+ exchange 
Glia  2014;62(7):1162-1175.
Astrogliosis is a prominent feature of many, if not all, pathologies of the brain and spinal cord, yet a detailed understanding of the underlying molecular pathways involved in the transformation from quiescent to reactive astrocyte remains elusive. We investigated the contribution of voltage-gated sodium channels to astrogliosis in an in vitro model of mechanical injury to astrocytes. Previous studies have shown that a scratch injury to astrocytes invokes dual mechanisms of migration and proliferation in these cells. Our results demonstrate that wound closure after mechanical injury, involving both migration and proliferation, is attenuated by pharmacological treatment with tetrodotoxin (TTX) and KB-R7943, at a dose that blocks reverse mode of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX), and by knockdown of Nav1.5 mRNA. We also show that astrocytes display a robust [Ca2+]i transient after mechanical injury and demonstrate that this [Ca2+]i response is also attenuated by TTX, KB-R7943, and Nav1.5 mRNA knockdown. Our results suggest that Nav1.5 and NCX are potential targets for modulation of astrogliosis after injury via their effect on [Ca2+]i.
doi:10.1002/glia.22671
PMCID: PMC4060891  PMID: 24740847
glial scar; sodium channels; sodium-calcium exchanger; migration; proliferation
7.  Virus-Mediated Knockdown of Nav1.3 in Dorsal Root Ganglia of STZ-Induced Diabetic Rats Alleviates Tactile Allodynia 
Molecular Medicine  2015;21(1):544-552.
Diabetic neuropathic pain affects a substantial number of people and represents a major public health problem. Available clinical treatments for diabetic neuropathic pain remain only partially effective and many of these treatments carry the burden of side effects or the risk of dependence. The misexpression of sodium channels within nociceptive neurons contributes to abnormal electrical activity associated with neuropathic pain. Voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.3 produces tetrodotoxin-sensitive sodium currents with rapid repriming kinetics and has been shown to contribute to neuronal hyperexcitability and ectopic firing in injured neurons. Suppression of Nav1.3 activity can attenuate neuropathic pain induced by peripheral nerve injury. Previous studies have shown that expression of Nav1.3 is upregulated in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons of diabetic rats that exhibit neuropathic pain. Here, we hypothesized that viral-mediated knockdown of Nav1.3 in painful diabetic neuropathy would reduce neuropathic pain. We used a validated recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV)-shRNA-Nav1.3 vector to knockdown expression of Nav1.3, via a clinically applicable intrathecal injection method. Three weeks following vector administration, we observed a significant rate of transduction in DRGs of diabetic rats that concomitantly reduced neuronal excitability of dorsal horn neurons and reduced behavioral evidence of tactile allodynia. Taken together, these findings offer a novel gene therapy approach for addressing chronic diabetic neuropathic pain.
doi:10.2119/molmed.2015.00063
PMCID: PMC4607619  PMID: 26101954
8.  Oral Administration of PF-01247324, a Subtype-Selective Nav1.8 Blocker, Reverses Cerebellar Deficits in a Mouse Model of Multiple Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0119067.
Cerebellar symptoms significantly diminish quality of life in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). We previously showed that sodium channel Nav1.8, although normally restricted to peripheral somatosensory neurons, is upregulated in the cerebellum in MS, and that Nav1.8 expression is linked to ataxia and MS-like symptoms in mice. Furthermore, intracerebroventricular administration of the Nav1.8 blocker A-803467 temporarily reversed electrophysiological and behavioral manifestations of disease in a mouse MS model; unfortunately A-803467 is not orally bioavailable, diminishing the potential for translation to human patients. In the present study, we assessed the effect of per os (p.o.) dosing of a new orally bioavailable Nav1.8-selective blocker, PF-01247324, in transgenic mice expressing Nav1.8 in Purkinje neurons, and in wildtype mice in the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model. PF-01247324 was administered by oral gavage at 1000 mg/kg; control groups received an equal volume of vehicle. Behavioral assays of motor coordination, grip strength, and ataxia were performed. We observed significant improvements in motor coordination and cerebellar-like symptoms in mice that received PF-01247324 compared to control littermates that received vehicle. These preclinical proof-of-concept data suggest that PF-01247324, its derivatives, or other Nav1.8-selective blockers merit further study for providing symptomatic therapy for cerebellar dysfunction in MS and related disorders.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0119067
PMCID: PMC4352054  PMID: 25747279
10.  A novel de novo mutation of SCN8A (Nav1.6) with enhanced channel activation in a child with epileptic encephalopathy 
Neurobiology of disease  2014;69:117-123.
Rare de novo mutations of sodium channels are thought to be an important cause of sporadic epilepsy. The well established role of de novo mutations of sodium channel SCN1A in Dravet Syndrome supports this view, but the etiology of many cases of epileptic encephalopathy remains unknown. We sought to identify the genetic cause in a patient with early onset epileptic encephalopathy by whole exome sequencing of genomic DNA. The heterozygous mutation c. 2003C>T in SCN8A, the gene encoding sodium channel Nav1.6, was detected in the patient but was not present in either parent. The resulting missense substitution, p.Thr767Ile, alters an evolutionarily conserved residue in the first transmembrane segment of channel domain II. The electrophysiological effects of this mutation were assessed in neuronal cells transfected with mutant or wildtype cDNA. The mutation causes enhanced channel activation, with a 10 mV depolarizing shift in voltage dependence of activation as well as increased ramp current. In addition, pyramidal hippocampal neurons expressing the mutant channel exhibit increased spontaneous firing with PDS-like complexes as well as increased frequency of evoked action potentials. The identification of this new gain-of-function mutation of Nav1.6 supports the inclusion of SCN8A as a causative gene in infantile epilepsy, demonstrates a novel mechanism for hyperactivity of Nav1.6, and further expands the role of de novo mutations in severe epilepsy.
doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2014.05.017
PMCID: PMC4124819  PMID: 24874546
12.  Contactin-1 and Neurofascin-155/-186 Are Not Targets of Auto-Antibodies in Multifocal Motor Neuropathy 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0134274.
Multifocal motor neuropathy is an immune mediated disease presenting with multifocal muscle weakness and conduction block. IgM auto-antibodies against the ganglioside GM1 are detectable in about 50% of the patients. Auto-antibodies against the paranodal proteins contactin-1 and neurofascin-155 and the nodal protein neurofascin-186 have been detected in subgroups of patients with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. Recently, auto-antibodies against neurofascin-186 and gliomedin were described in more than 60% of patients with multifocal motor neuropathy. In the current study, we aimed to validate this finding, using a combination of different assays for auto-antibody detection. In addition we intended to detect further auto-antibodies against paranodal proteins, specifically contactin-1 and neurofascin-155 in multifocal motor neuropathy patients’ sera. We analyzed sera of 33 patients with well-characterized multifocal motor neuropathy for IgM or IgG anti-contactin-1, anti-neurofascin-155 or -186 antibodies using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, binding assays with transfected human embryonic kidney 293 cells and murine teased fibers. We did not detect any IgM or IgG auto-antibodies against contactin-1, neurofascin-155 or -186 in any of our multifocal motor neuropathy patients. We conclude that auto-antibodies against contactin-1, neurofascin-155 and -186 do not play a relevant role in the pathogenesis in this cohort with multifocal motor neuropathy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134274
PMCID: PMC4517860  PMID: 26218529
13.  Characterization of a de novo SCN8A mutation in a patient with epileptic encephalopathy 
Epilepsy research  2014;108(9):1511-1518.
Objective
Recently, de novo SCN8A missense mutations have been identified as a rare dominant cause of epileptic encephalopathies. Functional studies on the first described case demonstrated gain-of-function effects of the mutation. We describe a novel de novo mutation of SCN8A in a patient with epileptic encephalopathy, and functional characterization of the mutant protein.
Design
Whole exome sequencing was used to discover the variant. We generated a mutant cDNA, transfected HEK293 cells, and performed Western blotting to assess protein stability. To study channel functional properties, patch-clamp experiments were carried out in transfected neuronal ND7/23 cells.
Results
The proband exhibited seizure onset at 6 months of age, diffuse brain atrophy, and more profound developmental impairment than the original case. The mutation p.Arg233Gly in the voltage sensing transmembrane segment D1S4 was present in the proband and absent in both parents. This mutation results in a temperature-sensitive reduction in protein expression as well as reduced sodium current amplitude and density and a relative increased response to a slow ramp stimulus, though this did not result in an absolute increased current at physiological temperatures.
Conclusion
The new de novo SCN8A mutation is clearly deleterious, resulting in an unstable protein with reduced channel activity. This differs from the gain-of-function attributes of the first SCN8A mutation in epileptic encephalopathy, pointing to heterogeneity of mechanisms. Since Nav1.6 is expressed in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons, a differential effect of a loss-of-function of Nav1.6 Arg223Gly on inhibitory interneurons may underlie the epilepsy phenotype in this patient.
doi:10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2014.08.020
PMCID: PMC4490185  PMID: 25239001
SCN8A; Nav1.6; epileptic encephalopathy; exome sequencing; patch-clamp
14.  Sodium channel Nav1.7 in vascular myocytes, endothelium, and innervating axons in human skin 
Molecular Pain  2015;11:26.
Background
The skin is a morphologically complex organ that serves multiple complementary functions, including an important role in thermoregulation, which is mediated by a rich vasculature that is innervated by sympathetic and sensory endings. Two autosomal dominant disorders characterized by episodes of severe pain, inherited erythromelalgia (IEM) and paroxysmal extreme pain disorder (PEPD) have been directly linked to mutations that enhance the function of sodium channel Nav1.7. Pain attacks are accompanied by reddening of the skin in both disorders. Nav1.7 is known to be expressed at relatively high levels within both dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and sympathetic ganglion neurons, and mutations that enhance the activity of Nav1.7 have been shown to have profound effects on the excitability of both cell-types, suggesting that dysfunction of sympathetic and/or sensory fibers, which release vasoactive peptides at skin vasculature, may contribute to skin reddening in IEM and PEPD.
Results
In the present study, we demonstrate that smooth muscle cells of cutaneous arterioles and arteriole-venule shunts (AVS) in the skin express sodium channel Nav1.7. Moreover, Nav1.7 is expressed by endothelial cells lining the arterioles and AVS and by sensory and sympathetic fibers innervating these vascular elements.
Conclusions
These observations suggest that the activity of mutant Nav1.7 channels in smooth muscle cells of skin vasculature and innervating sensory and sympathetic fibers contribute to the skin reddening and/or pain in IEM and PEPD.
doi:10.1186/s12990-015-0024-3
PMCID: PMC4447014  PMID: 25957174
Arteriole-venule shunt; Cutaneous arterioles; Dermis; Smooth muscle cells; Sodium channels; Vascular myocytes
15.  De novo gain-of-function and loss-of-function mutations of SCN8A in patients with intellectual disabilities and epilepsy 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2015;52(5):330-337.
Background
Mutations of SCN8A encoding the neuronal voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.6 are associated with early-infantile epileptic encephalopathy type 13 (EIEE13) and intellectual disability. Using clinical exome sequencing, we have detected three novel de novo SCN8A mutations in patients with intellectual disabilities, and variable clinical features including seizures in two patients. To determine the causality of these SCN8A mutations in the disease of those three patients, we aimed to study the (dys)function of the mutant sodium channels.
Methods
The functional consequences of the three SCN8A mutations were assessed using electrophysiological analyses in transfected cells. Genotype–phenotype correlations of these and other cases were related to the functional analyses.
Results
The first mutant displayed a 10 mV hyperpolarising shift in voltage dependence of activation (gain of function), the second did not form functional channels (loss of function), while the third mutation was functionally indistinguishable from the wildtype channel.
Conclusions
Comparison of the clinical features of these patients with those in the literature suggests that gain-of-function mutations are associated with severe EIEE, while heterozygous loss-of-function mutations cause intellectual disability with or without seizures. These data demonstrate that functional analysis of missense mutations detected by clinical exome sequencing, both inherited and de novo, is valuable for clinical interpretation in the age of massive parallel sequencing.
doi:10.1136/jmedgenet-2014-102813
PMCID: PMC4413743  PMID: 25725044
Epilepsy and seizures; Movement disorders (other than Parkinsons); intelectual disability; sodium channel; encephalopathy
16.  Preferential Targeting of Nav1.6 Voltage-Gated Na+ Channels to the Axon Initial Segment during Development 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0124397.
During axonal maturation, voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels accumulate at the axon initial segment (AIS) at high concentrations. This localization is necessary for the efficient initiation of action potentials. The mechanisms underlying channel trafficking to the AIS during axonal development have remained elusive due to a lack of Nav reagents suitable for high resolution imaging of channels located specifically on the cell surface. Using an optical pulse-chase approach in combination with a novel Nav1.6 construct containing an extracellular biotinylation domain we demonstrate that Nav1.6 channels are preferentially inserted into the AIS membrane during neuronal development via direct vesicular trafficking. Single-molecule tracking illustrates that axonal channels are immediately immobilized following delivery, while channels delivered to the soma are often mobile. Neither a Nav1.6 channel lacking the ankyrin-binding motif nor a chimeric Kv2.1 channel containing the Nav ankyrinG-binding domain show preferential AIS insertion. Together these data support a model where ankyrinG-binding is required for preferential Nav1.6 insertion into the AIS plasma membrane. In contrast, ankyrinG-binding alone does not confer the preferential delivery of proteins to the AIS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124397
PMCID: PMC4398423  PMID: 25874799
17.  Structural homology modeling and mutant cycle analysis predict pharmacoresponsiveness of a NaV1.7 mutant channel 
Nature communications  2012;3:1186.
The NaV1.7 voltage-gated sodium channel is critical for pain signaling in humans. Gain-of-function mutations are associated with several pain syndromes including inherited erythromelalgia (IEM). Most IEM patients with NaV1.7 mutations are resistant to pharmacotherapy, but carbamazepine (CBZ) normalizes activation of NaV1.7-V400M mutant channels from a family with CBZ-responsive IEM. Here we show that structural modeling and mutant cycle analysis predict pharmacoresponsiveness to CBZ of a NaV1.7 mutant channel that substitutes a residue 159 amino acids distant from V400M in the channel peptide. Structural modeling reveals that this IEM mutation (S241T) is only 2.4-angstrom (Å) apart from V400M in the folded NaV1.7 channel and mutant cycle analysis demonstrates that V400M is energetically coupled to S241T during channel activation. We further show that the atomic proximity and energetic coupling of V400M and S241T are paralleled by pharmacological coupling, as CBZ at therapeutic concentration (30 μM) causes a depolarizing shift of S214T mutant channel activation curve, similar to that previously reported for V400M mutant channel. This pharmacoresponsiveness of S241T to CBZ was further evident at a cellular level, where CBZ normalized the hyperexcitability of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons expressing S241T mutant channel. We suggest that a similar approach might facilitate screening for amino acid variants of a variety of channels that confer enhanced pharmacoresponsiveness on the channel.
doi:10.1038/ncomms2184
PMCID: PMC3530897  PMID: 23149731
18.  A Novel Nav1.7 Mutation Producing Carbamazepine-Responsive Erythromelalgia 
Annals of neurology  2009;65(6):733-741.
Objective
Human and animal studies have shown that Nav1.7 sodium channels, which are preferentially expressed within nociceptors and sympathetic neurons, play a major role in inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Inherited erythromelalgia (IEM) has been linked to gain-of-function mutations of Nav1.7. We now report a novel mutation (V400M) in a three-generation Canadian family in which pain is relieved by carbamazepine (CBZ).
Methods
We extracted genomic DNA from blood samples of eight members of the family, and the sequence of SCN9A coding exons was compared with the reference Nav1.7 complementary DNA. Wild-type Nav1.7 and V400M cell lines were then analyzed using whole-cell patch-clamp recording for changes in activation, deactivation, steady-state inactivation, and ramp currents.
Results
Whole-cell patch-clamp studies of V400M demonstrate changes in activation, deactivation, steady-state inactivation, and ramp currents that can produce dorsal root ganglia neuron hyperexcitability that underlies pain in these patients. We show that CBZ, at concentrations in the human therapeutic range, normalizes the voltage dependence of activation and inactivation of this inherited erythromelalgia mutation in Nav1.7 but does not affect these parameters in wild-type Nav1.7.
Interpretation
Our results demonstrate a normalizing effect of CBZ on mutant Nav1.7 channels in this kindred with CBZ-responsive inherited erythromelalgia. The selective effect of CBZ on the mutant Nav1.7 channel appears to explain the ameliorative response to treatment in this kindred. Our results suggest that functional expression and pharmacological studies may provide mechanistic insights into hereditary painful disorders.
doi:10.1002/ana.21678
PMCID: PMC4103031  PMID: 19557861
19.  Decreased Resting Functional Connectivity after Traumatic Brain Injury in the Rat 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95280.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) contributes to about 10% of acquired epilepsy. Even though the mechanisms of post-traumatic epileptogenesis are poorly known, a disruption of neuronal networks predisposing to altered neuronal synchrony remains a viable candidate mechanism. We tested a hypothesis that resting state BOLD-fMRI functional connectivity can reveal network abnormalities in brain regions that are connected to the lesioned cortex, and that these changes associate with functional impairment, particularly epileptogenesis. TBI was induced using lateral fluid-percussion injury in seven adult male Sprague-Dawley rats followed by functional imaging at 9.4T 4 months later. As controls we used six sham-operated animals that underwent all surgical operations but were not injured. Electroencephalogram (EEG)-functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed to measure resting functional connectivity. A week after functional imaging, rats were implanted with bipolar skull electrodes. After recovery, rats underwent pentyleneterazol (PTZ) seizure-susceptibility test under EEG. For image analysis, four pairs of regions of interests were analyzed in each hemisphere: ipsilateral and contralateral frontal and parietal cortex, hippocampus, and thalamus. High-pass and low-pass filters were applied to functional imaging data. Group statistics comparing injured and sham-operated rats and correlations over time between each region were calculated. In the end, rats were perfused for histology. None of the rats had epileptiform discharges during functional imaging. PTZ-test, however revealed increased seizure susceptibility in injured rats as compared to controls. Group statistics revealed decreased connectivity between the ipsilateral and contralateral parietal cortex and between the parietal cortex and hippocampus on the side of injury as compared to sham-operated animals. Injured animals also had abnormal negative connectivity between the ipsilateral and contralateral parietal cortex and other regions. Our data provide the first evidence on abnormal functional connectivity after experimental TBI assessed with resting state BOLD-fMRI.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095280
PMCID: PMC3991600  PMID: 24748279
20.  Screening Fluorescent Voltage Indicators with Spontaneously Spiking HEK Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e85221.
Development of improved fluorescent voltage indicators is a key challenge in neuroscience, but progress has been hampered by the low throughput of patch-clamp characterization. We introduce a line of non-fluorescent HEK cells that stably express NaV 1.3 and KIR 2.1 and generate spontaneous electrical action potentials. These cells enable rapid, electrode-free screening of speed and sensitivity of voltage sensitive dyes or fluorescent proteins on a standard fluorescence microscope. We screened a small library of mutants of archaerhodopsin 3 (Arch) in spiking HEK cells and identified two mutants with greater voltage-sensitivity than found in previously published Arch voltage indicators.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085221
PMCID: PMC3877367  PMID: 24391999
21.  Correlation of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 sodium channel expression with neuropathic pain in human subjects with lingual nerve neuromas 
Molecular Pain  2013;9:52.
Background
Voltage-gated sodium channels Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 are expressed preferentially in small diameter sensory neurons, and are thought to play a role in the generation of ectopic activity in neuronal cell bodies and/or their axons following peripheral nerve injury. The expression of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 has been quantified in human lingual nerves that have been previously injured inadvertently during lower third molar removal, and any correlation between the expression of these ion channels and the presence or absence of dysaesthesia investigated.
Results
Immunohistochemical processing and quantitative image analysis revealed that Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 were expressed in human lingual nerve neuromas from patients with or without symptoms of dysaesthesia. The level of Nav1.8 expression was significantly higher in patients reporting pain compared with no pain, and a significant positive correlation was observed between levels of Nav1.8 expression and VAS scores for the symptom of tingling. No significant differences were recorded in the level of expression of Nav1.9 between patients with or without pain.
Conclusions
These results demonstrate that Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 are present in human lingual nerve neuromas, with significant correlations between the level of expression of Nav1.8 and symptoms of pain. These data provide further evidence that changes in expression of Nav1.8 are important in the development and/or maintenance of nerve injury-induced pain, and suggest that Nav1.8 may be a potential therapeutic target.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-9-52
PMCID: PMC4016210  PMID: 24144460
Lingual nerve; Nerve injury; Trigeminal; Neuropathic pain; Dysaesthesia; Tingling; Nav1.8; Nav1.9
22.  Role of hippocampal sodium channel Nav1.6 in kindling epileptogenesis 
Epilepsia  2008;50(1):44-55.
Purpose
Central nervous system plasticity is essential for normal function, but can also reinforce abnormal network behavior, leading to epilepsy and other disorders. The role of altered ion channel expression in abnormal plasticity has not been thoroughly investigated. Nav1.6 is the most abundantly expressed sodium channel in the nervous system. Because of its distribution in the cell body and axon initial segment, Nav1.6 is crucial for action potential generation. The goal of the present study was to investigate the possible role of changes in Nav1.6 expression in abnormal, activity-dependent plasticity of hippocampal circuits.
Methods
We studied kindling, a form of abnormal activity-dependent facilitation. We investigated: 1. sodium channel protein expression by immunocytochemistry and sodium channel mRNA by in situ hybridization, 2. sodium current by patch clamp recordings, and 3. rate of kindling by analysis of seizure behavior. The initiation, development, and expression of kindling in wild type mice were compared to Nav1.6 +/− medtg mice, which have reduced expression of Nav1.6.
Results
We found that kindling was associated with increased expression of Nav1.6 protein and mRNA, which occurred selectively in hippocampal CA3 neurons. Hippocampal CA3 neurons also showed increased persistent sodium current in kindled animals compared to sham-kindled controls. Conversely, Nav1.6 +/− medtg mice resisted the initiation and development of kindling.
Discussion
These findings suggest an important mechanism for enhanced excitability, in which Nav1.6 may participate in a self-reinforcing cycle of activity-dependent facilitation in the hippocampus. This mechanism could contribute to both normal hippocampal function, and to epilepsy and other common nervous system disorders.
doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01710.x
PMCID: PMC3741044  PMID: 18637833
epilepsy; kindling; hippocampus; persistent sodium current; LTP
23.  NaV1.7: Stress-induced changes in immunoreactivity within magnocellular neurosecretory neurons of the supraoptic nucleus 
Molecular Pain  2013;9:39.
Background
NaV1.7 is preferentially expressed, at relatively high levels, in peripheral neurons, and is often referred to as a “peripheral” sodium channel, and NaV1.7-specific blockers are under study as potential pain therapeutics which might be expected to have minimal CNS side effects. However, occasional reports of patients with NaV1.7 gain-of-function mutations and apparent hypothalamic dysfunction have appeared. The two sodium channels previously studied within the rat hypothalamic supraoptic nucleus, NaV1.2 and NaV1.6, display up-regulated expression in response to osmotic stress.
Results
Here we show that NaV1.7 is present within vasopressin-producing neurons and oxytocin-producing neurons within the rat hypothalamus, and demonstrate that the level of Nav1.7 immunoreactivity is increased in these cells in response to osmotic stress.
Conclusions
NaV1.7 is present within neurosecretory neurons of rat supraoptic nucleus, where the level of immunoreactivity is dynamic, increasing in response to osmotic stress. Whether NaV1.7 levels are up-regulated within the human hypothalamus in response to environmental factors or stress, and whether NaV1.7 plays a functional role in human hypothalamus, is not yet known. Until these questions are resolved, the present findings suggest the need for careful assessment of hypothalamic function in patients with NaV1.7 mutations, especially when subjected to stress, and for monitoring of hypothalamic function as NaV1.7 blocking agents are studied.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-9-39
PMCID: PMC3750570  PMID: 23924059
Hypothalamus; Nav1.7; Salt-loading; Supraoptic nucleus
24.  An ankyrinG-binding motif is necessary and sufficient for targeting Nav1.6 sodium channels to axon initial segments and nodes of Ranvier 
Neurons are highly polarized cells with functionally distinct axonal and somatodendritic compartments. Voltage-gated sodium channels Nav1.2 and Nav1.6 are highly enriched at axon initial segments (AIS) and nodes of Ranvier, where they are necessary for generation and propagation of action potentials. Previous studies using reporter proteins in unmyelinated cultured neurons suggest that an ankyrinG-binding motif within intracellular loop 2 (L2) of sodium channels is sufficient for targeting these channels to the AIS, but mechanisms of channel targeting to nodes remain poorly understood. Using a CD4-Nav1.2/L2 reporter protein in rat dorsal root ganglion neuron-Schwann cell myelinating co-cultures, we show that the ankyrinG-binding motif is sufficient for protein targeting to nodes of Ranvier. However, reporter proteins cannot capture the complexity of full-length channels. To determine how native, full-length sodium channels are clustered in axons, and to show the feasibility of studying these channels in vivo, we constructed fluorescently-tagged and functional mouse Nav1.6 channels for in vivo analysis using in utero brain electroporation. We show here that wild-type tagged-Nav1.6 channels are efficiently clustered at nodes and AIS in vivo. Furthermore, we show that mutation of a single invariant glutamic acid residue (E1100) within the ankyrinG-binding motif blocked Nav1.6 targeting in neurons both in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, we show that caseine kinase phosphorylation sites within this motif, while not essential for targeting, can modulate clustering at the AIS. Thus, the ankyrinG- binding motif is both necessary and sufficient for the clustering of sodium channels at nodes of Ranvier and the AIS.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5434-11.2012
PMCID: PMC3413458  PMID: 22623668
Ion Channel; Axon Initial Segment; Nodes of Ranvier; cytoskeleton; in utero electroporation
25.  Expression of Nav1.7 in DRG neurons extends from peripheral terminals in the skin to central preterminal branches and terminals in the dorsal horn 
Molecular Pain  2012;8:82.
Background
Sodium channel Nav1.7 has emerged as a target of considerable interest in pain research, since loss-of-function mutations in SCN9A, the gene that encodes Nav1.7, are associated with a syndrome of congenital insensitivity to pain, gain-of-function mutations are linked to the debiliting chronic pain conditions erythromelalgia and paroxysmal extreme pain disorder, and upregulated expression of Nav1.7 accompanies pain in diabetes and inflammation. Since Nav1.7 has been implicated as playing a critical role in pain pathways, we examined by immunocytochemical methods the expression and distribution of Nav1.7 in rat dorsal root ganglia neurons, from peripheral terminals in the skin to central terminals in the spinal cord dorsal horn.
Results
Nav1.7 is robustly expressed within the somata of peptidergic and non-peptidergic DRG neurons, and along the peripherally- and centrally-directed C-fibers of these cells. Nav1.7 is also expressed at nodes of Ranvier in a subpopulation of Aδ-fibers within sciatic nerve and dorsal root. The peripheral terminals of DRG neurons within skin, intraepidermal nerve fibers (IENF), exhibit robust Nav1.7 immunolabeling. The central projections of DRG neurons in the superficial lamina of spinal cord dorsal horn also display Nav1.7 immunoreactivity which extends to presynaptic terminals.
Conclusions
The expression of Nav1.7 in DRG neurons extends from peripheral terminals in the skin to preterminal central branches and terminals in the dorsal horn. These data support a major contribution for Nav1.7 in pain pathways, including action potential electrogenesis, conduction along axonal trunks and depolarization/invasion of presynaptic axons. The findings presented here may be important for pharmaceutical development, where target engagement in the right compartment is essential.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-8-82
PMCID: PMC3517774  PMID: 23134641
Dorsal root ganglia; Dorsal horn; Intraepidermal nerve fiber; Pain pathway; Sodium channel; Spinal cord

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