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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 Feb 2020 - 7 Feb 2020

Animal Studies



PLoS One



Hippocalcin-like 4, a neural calcium sensor, has a limited contribution to pain and itch processing.


Alvaro CG, Braz JM, Bernstein M, Hamel KA, Craik V, Yamanaka H, Basbaum AI
PLoS One. 2020; 15(2):e0226289.
PMID: 32015563.


Calcium binding proteins are expressed throughout the central and peripheral nervous system and disruption of their activity has major consequences in a wide array of cellular processes, including transmission of nociceptive signals that are processed at the level of the spinal cord. We previously reported that the calcium binding protein, hippocalcin-like 4 (Hpcal4), is heavily expressed in interneurons of the superficial dorsal horn, and that its expression is significantly downregulated in a TR4 mutant mouse model that exhibits major pain and itch deficits due to loss of a subpopulation of excitatory interneurons. That finding suggested that Hpcal4 may be a contributor to the behavioral phenotype of the TR4 mutant mouse. To address this question, here we investigated the behavioral consequences of global deletion of Hpcal4 in a battery of acute and persistent pain and itch tests. Unexpectedly, with the exception of a mild reduction in acute baseline thermal responses, Hpcal4-deficient mice exhibit no major deficits in pain or itch responses, under normal conditions or in the setting of tissue or nerve injury. Taken together, our results indicate that the neural calcium sensor Hpcal4 likely makes a limited contribution to pain and itch processing.