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Role of protein kinase A in phosphorylation of NMDA receptor 1 subunits in dorsal horn and spinothalamic tract neurons after intradermal injection of capsaicin in rats

X Zou, Q Lin, W D Willis
Neuroscience 2002, 115 (3): 775-86
12435416
Protein phosphorylation is a major mechanism for regulation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor function. The NMDA receptor 1 subunit (NR1) is phosphorylated by protein kinase A (PKA) on serine 890 and 897. We have recently reported that there is enhanced phosphorylation of NR1 on serine 897 in dorsal horn and spinothalamic tract (STT) neurons after intradermal injection of capsaicin (CAP) in rats [Zou et al. (2000) J. Neurosci. 20, 6989-6997]. Whether or not this phosphorylation, which develops during central sensitization following CAP injection, is mediated by PKA remains to be determined. In this study, western blots and immunofluorescence staining were employed to observe if pretreatment with a PKA inhibitor, N-[2-((p-bromocinnamyl)amino)ethyl]-5-isoquinolinesulfonamide, HCl (H89), blocks the enhanced phosphorylation of NR1 on serine 897 following injection of CAP into the glabrous skin of one hind paw of anesthetized rats. Western blots showed that pretreatment with H89 caused a decrease in CAP-induced phosphorylation of NR1 protein in spinal cord segments L(4)-S(1). In experiments using immunofluorescence staining, the numbers of phospho-NR1-like immunoreactive (p-NR1-LI) neurons seen after CAP injection were significantly decreased in the dorsal horn of the L(4)-L(5) segments on the side ipsilateral to the injection after PKA was inhibited. When STT cells were labeled by microinjection of the retrograde tracer, fluorogold, we found that the proportion of p-NR1-LI STT cells on the side ipsilateral to the injection in the superficial laminae of spinal cord segments L(4)-L(5) was markedly reduced when H89 was administered intrathecally before CAP injection. However, the proportion of p-NR1-LI STT cells in deep laminae was unchanged unless the PKC inhibitor, chelerythrine chloride, was co-administered with H89. Combined with our previous findings, the present results indicate that NR1 in spinal dorsal horn neurons, including the superficial dorsal horn STT cells, is phosphorylated following CAP injection and that this phosphorylation is due to the action of PKA. However, the phosphorylation of deep STT cells involves both PKA and PKC.

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