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Anesthesiology and Pain Management - Molecular Biology - Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience

Type III Nrg1 Back Signaling Enhances Functional TRPV1 along Sensory Axons Contributing to Basal and Inflammatory Thermal Pain Sensation
Published: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Author: Sarah E. Canetta et al.

by Sarah E. Canetta, Edlira Luca, Elyse Pertot, Lorna W. Role, David A. Talmage

Type III Nrg1, a member of the Nrg1 family of signaling proteins, is expressed in sensory neurons, where it can signal in a bi-directional manner via interactions with the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases (ErbB RTKs) [1]. Type III Nrg1 signaling as a receptor (Type III Nrg1 back signaling) can acutely activate phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PtdIns3K) signaling, as well as regulate levels of a7* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, along sensory axons [2]. Transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) is a cation-permeable ion channel found in primary sensory neurons that is necessary for the detection of thermal pain and for the development of thermal hypersensitivity to pain under inflammatory conditions [3]. Cell surface expression of TRPV1 can be enhanced by activation of PtdIns3K [4], [5], [6], making it a potential target for regulation by Type III Nrg1. We now show that Type III Nrg1 signaling in sensory neurons affects functional axonal TRPV1 in a PtdIns3K-dependent manner. Furthermore, mice heterozygous for Type III Nrg1 have specific deficits in their ability to respond to noxious thermal stimuli and to develop capsaicin-induced thermal hypersensitivity to pain. Cumulatively, these results implicate Type III Nrg1 as a novel regulator of TRPV1 and a molecular mediator of nociceptive function.