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Neurosci Lett. 2011 Aug 18;500(3):192-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2011.06.034. Epub 2011 Jun 29.

Differential gene expression of neonatal and adult DRG neurons correlates with the differential sensitization of TRPV1 responses to nerve growth factor.

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Stark Neuroscience Research Institute and Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, United States.


Cultures of neonatal and adult dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons are commonly used in in vitro models to study the ion channels and signaling events associated with peripheral sensation under various conditions. Differential responsiveness between neonatal and adult DRG neurons to physiological or pathological stimuli suggests potential differences in their gene expression profiles. We performed a microarray analysis of cultured adult and neonatal rat DRG neurons, which revealed distinct gene expression profiles especially of ion channels and signaling molecules at the genomic level. For example, Ca(2+)-stimulated adenylyl cyclase (AC) isoforms AC3 and AC8, PKCδ and CaMKIIα, the voltage-gated sodium channel β1 and β4, and potassium channels K(v)1.1, K(v)3.2, K(v)4.1, K(v)9.1, K(v)9.3, K(ir)3.4, K(ir)7.1, K(2P)1.1/TWIK-1 had significantly higher mRNA expression in adult rat DRG neurons, while Ca(2+)-inhibited AC5 and AC6, sodium channel Na(v)1.3 α subunit, potassium channels K(ir)6.1, K(2P)10.1/TREK-2, calcium channel Ca(v)2.2 α1 subunit, and its auxiliary subunits β1 and β3 were conversely down regulated in adult neurons. Importantly, higher adult neuron expression of ERK1/2, PI3K/P110α, but not of TRPV1 and TrkA, was found and confirmed by PCR and western blot. These latter findings are consistent with the key role of ERK and PI3K signaling in sensitization of TRPV1 by NGF and may explain our previously published observation that adult, but not neonatal, rat DRG neurons are sensitized by NGF.

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