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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 Dec 2021 - 31 Dec 2021

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2021 Dec 20

Toxins (Basel)



PKCζ-Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Signaling Mediates Crotalphine-Induced Antinociception.


de Freitas BG, Hösch NG, Pereira LM, Barbosa TC, Picolo G, Cury Y, Zambelli VO
Toxins (Basel). 2021 Dec 20; 13(12).
PMID: 34941749.


Crotalphine (CRP) is a structural analogue to a peptide that was first identified in the crude venom from the South American rattlesnake . This peptide induces a potent and long-lasting antinociceptive effect that is mediated by the activation of peripheral opioid receptors. The opioid receptor activation regulates a variety of intracellular signaling, including the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Using primary cultures of sensory neurons, it was demonstrated that crotalphine increases the level of activated ERK1/2 and JNK-MAPKs and this increase is dependent on the activation of protein kinase Cζ (PKCζ). However, whether PKCζ-MAPK signaling is critical for crotalphine-induced antinociception is unknown. Here, we biochemically demonstrated that the systemic crotalphine activates ERK1/2 and JNK and decreases the phosphorylation of p38 in the lumbar spinal cord. The in vivo pharmacological inhibition of spinal ERK1/2 and JNK, but not of p38, blocks the antinociceptive effect of crotalphine. Of interest, the administration of a PKCζ pseudosubstrate (PKCζ inhibitor) prevents crotalphine-induced ERK activation in the spinal cord, followed by the abolishment of crotalphine-induced analgesia. Together, our results demonstrate that the PKCζ-ERK signaling pathway is involved in crotalphine-induced analgesia. Our study opens a perspective for the PKCζ-MAPK axis as a target for pain control.