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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Jan 2019 - 1 Feb 2019

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2019 May

Biochem Pharmacol


Mining the Na1.7 interactome: Opportunities for chronic pain therapeutics.


Chew LA, Bellampalli SS, Dustrude ET, Khanna R
Biochem Pharmacol. 2019 May; 163:9-20.
PMID: 30699328.


The peripherally expressed voltage-gated sodium Na1.7 (gene SCN9A) channel boosts small stimuli to initiate firing of pain-signaling dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons and facilitates neurotransmitter release at the first synapse within the spinal cord. Mutations in SCN9A produce distinct human pain syndromes. Widely acknowledged as a "gatekeeper" of pain, Na1.7 has been the focus of intense investigation but, to date, no Na1.7-selective drugs have reached the clinic. Elegant crystallographic studies have demonstrated the potential of designing highly potent and selective Na1.7 compounds but their therapeutic value remains untested. Transcriptional silencing of Na1.7 by a naturally expressed antisense transcript has been reported in rodents and humans but whether this represents a viable opportunity for designing Na1.7 therapeutics is currently unknown. The demonstration that loss of Na1.7 function is associated with upregulation of endogenous opioids and potentiation of mu- and delta-opioid receptor activities, suggests that targeting only Na1.7 may be insufficient for analgesia. However, the link between opioid-dependent analgesic mechanisms and function of sodium channels and intracellular sodium-dependent signaling remains controversial and disputed. Thus, additional new targets – regulators, modulators – are needed. In this context, we mine the literature for the known interactome of Na1.7 with a focus on protein interactors that affect the channel's trafficking or link it to opioid signaling. As a case study, we present antinociceptive evidence of allosteric regulation of Na1.7 by the cytosolic collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP2). Throughout discussions of these possible new targets, we offer thoughts on the therapeutic implications of modulating Na1.7 function in chronic pain.