Differential expression of ion channels contributes functional diversity to sensory neuron signaling. We find nerve injury induced by the Chung model of neuropathic pain leads to striking reductions in voltage-gated K+ (Kv) channel subunit expression in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons, suggesting a potential molecular mechanism for hyperexcitability of injured nerves. Moreover, specific classes of DRG neurons express distinct Kv channel subunit combinations. Importantly, Kv1.4 is the sole Kv1 α subunit expressed in smaller diameter neurons, suggesting that homomeric Kv1.4 channels predominate in Aδ and C fibers arising from these cells. These neurons are presumably nociceptors, because they also express the VR-1 capsaicin receptor, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and/or Na+ channel SNS/PN3/Nav1.8. In contrast, larger diameter neurons associated with mechanoreception and proprioception express high levels of Kv1.1 and Kv1.2 without Kv1.4 or other Kv1 α subunits, suggesting that heteromers of these subunits predominate on large, myelinated afferent axons that extend from these cells.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Nov 6 2001|
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