Article

Sensory neurons from Nf1 haploinsufficient mice exhibit increased excitability.

Departments of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, 46202, USA.
Journal of Neurophysiology (Impact Factor: 3.3). 01/2006; 94(6):3670-6. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00489.2005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common genetic disorder characterized by tumor formation. People with NF1 also can experience more intense painful responses to stimuli, such as minor trauma, than normal. NF1 results from a heterozygous mutation of the NF1 gene, leading to decreased levels of neurofibromin, the protein product of the NF1 gene. Neurofibromin is a guanosine triphosphatase activating protein (GAP) for Ras and accelerates the conversion of active Ras-GTP to inactive Ras-GDP; therefore mutation of the NF1 gene frequently results in an increase in activity of the Ras transduction cascade. Using patch-clamp electrophysiological techniques, we examined the excitability of capsaicin-sensitive sensory neurons isolated from the dorsal root ganglia of adult mice with a heterozygous mutation of the Nf1 gene (Nf1+/-), analogous to the human mutation, in comparison to wildtype sensory neurons. Sensory neurons from adult Nf1+/- mice generated a more than twofold higher number of action potentials in response to a ramp of depolarizing current as wild-type neurons. Consistent with the greater number of action potentials, Nf1+/- neurons had lower firing thresholds, lower rheobase currents, and shorter firing latencies than wild-type neurons. Interestingly, nerve growth factor augmented the excitability of wild-type neurons in a concentration-related manner but did not further alter the excitability of the Nf1+/- sensory neurons. These data clearly suggest that GAPs, such as neurofibromin, can play a key role in the excitability of nociceptive sensory neurons. This increased excitability may explain the painful conditions experienced by people with NF1.

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    ABSTRACT: This study examined whether mice with a deficiency of neurofibromin, a Ras GTPase activating protein, exhibit a nociceptive phenotype and probed a possible contribution by calcitonin gene-related peptide. In the absence of inflammation, Nf1+/- mice (B6.129S6 Nf1 /J) and wild type littermates responded comparably to heat or mechanical stimuli, except for a subtle enhanced mechanical sensitivity in female Nf1+/- mice. Nociceptive phenotype was also examined after inflammation induced by capsaicin and formalin, which release endogenous calcitonin gene-related peptide. Intraplantar injection of capsaicin evoked comparable heat hyperalgesia and mechanical hypersensitivity in Nf1+/- and wild type mice of both genders. Formalin injection caused a similar duration of licking in male Nf1+/- and wild type mice. Female Nf1+/- mice licked less than wild type mice, but displayed other nociceptive behaviors. In contrast, intraplantar injection of CGRP caused greater heat hyperalgesia in Nf1+/- mice of both genders compared to wild type mice. Male Nf1+/- mice also exhibited greater mechanical hypersensitivity; however, female Nf1+/- mice exhibited less mechanical hypersensitivity than their wild type littermates. Transcripts for calcitonin gene-related peptide were similar in the dorsal root ganglia of both genotypes and genders. Transcripts for receptor activity-modifying protein-1, which is rate-limiting for the calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor, in the spinal cord were comparable for both genotypes and genders. The increased responsiveness to intraplantar calcitonin gene-related peptide suggests that the peripheral actions of calcitonin gene-related peptide are enhanced as a result of the neurofibromin deficit. The analgesic efficacy of calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor antagonists may therefore merit investigation in neurofibromatosis patients.
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    ABSTRACT: Includes bibliographical references. ABSTRACT Yue Wang Neurofibromin, nerve growth factor and Ras: their roles in controlling the excitability of mouse sensory neurons Neurofibromin, the product of the Nf1 gene, is a guanosine triphosphatase activating protein (GAP) for p21ras (Ras) that accelerates the conversion of active Ras-GTP to inactive Ras-GDP. It is likely that sensory neurons with reduced levels of neurofibromin have augmented Ras-GTP activity. In a mouse model with a heterozygous mutation of the Nf1 gene (Nf1+/-), the patch-clamp recording technique is used to investigate the role of neurofibromin in controlling the state of neuronal excitability. Sensory neurons isolated from adult Nf1+/- mice generate more APs in response to a ramp of depolarizing current compared to Nf1+/+ mice. In order to elucidate whether the activation of Ras underlies this augmented excitability, sensory neurons are exposed to nerve growth factor (NGF) that activates Ras. In Nf1+/+ neurons, exposure to NGF increases the production of APs. To examine whether activation of Ras contributes to the NGF-induced sensitization in Nf1+/+ neurons, an antibody that neutralizes Ras activity is internally perfused into neurons. The NGF-mediated augmentation of excitability is suppressed by the Ras-blocking antibody in Nf1+/+ neurons, suggesting the NGF-induced sensitization in Nf1+/+ neurons depends on the activation of Ras. Surprisingly, the excitability of Nf1+/- neurons is not altered by the blocking antibody, suggesting that this enhanced excitability may depend on previous activation of downstream effectors of Ras. To determine the mechanism giving rise to augmented excitability of Nf1+/- neurons, isolated membrane currents are examined. Consistent with the enhanced excitability of Nf1+/- neurons, the peak current density of tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-R) and TTX-sensitive (TTX-S) sodium currents (INa) are significantly larger than in Nf1+/+ neurons. Although the voltage for half-maximal activation (V0.5) is not different, there is a significant depolarizing shift in the V0.5 for steady-state inactivation of INa in Nf1+/- neurons. In summary, these results demonstrate that the enhanced production of APs in Nf1+/- neurons results from a larger current amplitude and a depolarized voltage dependence of steady-state inactivation of INa that leads to more sodium channels being available for the subsequent firing of APs. My investigation supports the idea that regulation of channels by the Ras cascade is an important determinant of neuronal excitability. Grant D. Nicol, Ph.D, Chair
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    Neuroscience 04/2014; · 3.12 Impact Factor

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