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J Neurosci. 2017 Oct 18;37(42):10230-10239. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1018-17.2017. Epub 2017 Sep 20.

Enhanced Nociception in Angelman Syndrome Model Mice.

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Department of Cell Biology and Physiology and University of North Carolina Neuroscience Center.
Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, and.
Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599.
Department of Cell Biology and Physiology and University of North Carolina Neuroscience Center,


Angelman syndrome (AS) is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder caused by mutation or deletion of the maternal UBE3A allele. The maternal UBE3A allele is expressed in nearly all neurons of the brain and spinal cord, whereas the paternal UBE3A allele is repressed by an extremely long antisense transcript (UBE3A-ATS). Little is known about expression of UBE3A in the peripheral nervous system, where loss of maternal UBE3A might contribute to AS phenotypes. Here we sought to examine maternal and paternal Ube3a expression in DRGs neurons and to evaluate whether nociceptive responses were affected in AS model mice (global deletion of maternal Ube3a allele; Ube3am-/p+). We found that most large-diameter proprioceptive and mechanosensitive DRG neurons expressed maternal Ube3a and paternal Ube3a-ATS In contrast, most small-diameter neurons expressed Ube3a biallelically and had low to undetectable levels of Ube3a-ATS Analysis of single-cell DRG transcriptomes further suggested that Ube3a is expressed monoallelically in myelinated large-diameter neurons and biallelically in unmyelinated small-diameter neurons. Behavioral responses to some noxious thermal and mechanical stimuli were enhanced in male and female AS model mice; however, nociceptive responses were not altered by the conditional deletion of maternal Ube3a in the DRG. These data suggest that the enhanced nociceptive responses in AS model mice are due to loss of maternal Ube3a in the central, but not peripheral, nervous system. Our study provides new insights into sensory processing deficits associated with AS.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by loss or mutation of the maternal UBE3A allele. While sensory processing deficits are frequently associated with AS, it is currently unknown whether Ube3a is expressed in peripheral sensory neurons or whether maternal deletion of Ube3a affects somatosensory responses. Here, we found that Ube3a is primarily expressed from the maternally inherited allele in myelinated large-diameter sensory neurons and biallelically expressed in unmyelinated small-diameter neurons. Nociceptive responses to select noxious thermal and mechanical stimuli were enhanced following global, but not sensory neuron-specific, deletion of maternal Ube3a in mice. These data suggest that maternal loss of Ube3a affects nociception via a central, but not peripheral mechanism, with implications for AS.


Angelman syndrome; Ube3a; nociception

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