COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Proton sensitivity Ca2+ permeability and molecular basis of acid-sensing ion channels expressed in glabrous and hairy skin afferents

N Jiang, K K Rau, R D Johnson, B Y Cooper
Journal of Neurophysiology 2006, 95 (4): 2466-78
16407431
We contrasted the physiology and peripheral targets of subclassified nociceptive and nonnociceptive afferents that express acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC)-like currents. The threshold for current activation was similar in eight distinct cell subclasses regardless of functional modality (pH 6.8). When potency was determined from concentration-response curves, nonnociceptors exhibited currents with significantly greater potency than that of all but one class of nociceptors (pH50 = 6.54 and 6.75 vs. 6.20-6.34). In nonnociceptive cells, acid transduction was also confined to a very narrow range (0.1-0.3 vs. 0.8-1.4 pH units for nociceptors). Simultaneous whole cell recording and ratiometric imaging of three peptidergic nociceptive classes were consistent with the expression of Ca2+ -permeable ASICs. Sensitivity to psalmotoxin and flurbiprofen indicated the presence of Ca2+ -permeable ASIC1a. Immunocytochemistry on these subclassified populations revealed a differential distribution of five ASIC proteins consistent with Ca2+ permeability and differential kinetics of proton-gated currents (type 5: ASIC1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3; type 8a: ASIC1a, 1b, 3; type 8b: ASIC1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3). Using DiI tracing, we found that nociceptive classes had discrete peripheral targets. ASIC-expressing types 8a and 9 projected to hairy skin, but only types 8a and 13 projected to glabrous skin. Non-ASIC-expressing types 2 and 4 were present only in hairy skin. We conclude that ASIC-expressing nociceptors differ from ASIC-expressing nonnociceptors mainly by range of proton reactivity. ASIC- as well as non-ASIC-expressing nociceptors have highly distinct cutaneous targets, and only one class was consistent with the existence of a generic C polymodal nociceptor (type 8a).

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