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Annu Rev Genet. 2017 Nov 27;51:103-121. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-120116-024723.

Mas-Related G Protein-Coupled Receptors and the Biology of Itch Sensation.

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The Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience and the Center for Sensory Biology, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA; email: ,
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Chronic, persistent itch is a devastating symptom that causes much suffering. In recent years, there has been great progress made in understanding the molecules, cells, and circuits underlying itch sensation. Once thought to be carried by pain-sensing neurons, itch is now believed to be capable of being transmitted by dedicated sensory labeled lines. Members of the Mas-related G protein-coupled receptor (Mrgpr) family demarcate an itch-specific labeled line in the peripheral nervous system. In the spinal cord, the expression of other proteins identifies additional populations of itch-dedicated sensory neurons. However, as evidence for labeled-line coding has mounted, studies promoting alternative itch-coding strategies have emerged, complicating our understanding of the neural basis of itch. In this review, we cover the molecules, cells, and circuits related to understanding the neural basis of itch, with a focus on the role of Mrgprs in mediating itch sensation.


DRG; Mas-related; Mrgpr; itch; pruritus; spinal cord

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