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J Neurosci. 2006 May 10;26(19):5109-16.

Sensitization of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 by the prokineticin receptor agonist Bv8.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1PD, United Kingdom.


Small mammalian proteins called the prokineticins [prokineticin 1 (PK1) and PK2] and two corresponding G-protein-coupled receptors [prokineticin receptor 1 (PKR1) and PKR2] have been identified recently, but the physiological role of the PK/PKR system remains mostly unexplored. Bv8, a protein extracted from frog skin, is a convenient and potent agonist for both PKR1 and PKR2, and injection of Bv8 in vivo causes a potent and long-lasting hyperalgesia. Here, we investigate the cellular basis of hyperalgesia caused by activation of PKRs. Bv8 caused increases in [Ca]i in a population of isolated dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, which we identified as nociceptors, or sensors for painful stimuli, from their responses to capsaicin, bradykinin, mustard oil, or proteases. Bv8 enhanced the inward current carried by the heat and capsaicin receptor, transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) via a pathway involving activation of protein kinase Cepsilon (PKCepsilon), because Bv8 caused translocation of PKCepsilon to the neuronal membrane and because PKC antagonists reduced both the enhancement of current carried by TRPV1 and behavioral hyperalgesia in rodents. The neuronal population expressing PKRs consisted partly of small peptidergic neurons and partly of neurons expressing the N52 marker for myelinated fibers. Using single-cell reverse transcriptase-PCR, we found that mRNA for PKR1 was mainly expressed in small DRG neurons. Exposure to GDNF (glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor) induced de novo expression of functional receptors for Bv8 in a nonpeptidergic population of neurons. These results show that prokineticin receptors are expressed in nociceptors and cause heat hyperalgesia by sensitizing TRPV1 through activation of PKCepsilon. The results suggest a role for prokineticins in physiological inflammation and hyperalgesia.

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