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Papers of the Week

2023 Jan 04


MNK1 and MNK2 expression in the human dorsal root and trigeminal ganglion.


Shiers S, Sahn JJ, Price TJ
bioRxiv. 2023 Jan 04.
PMID: 36711529.


Mitogen activated protein kinase interacting kinases (MNK) 1 and 2 are serine/threonine protein kinases that play an important role in translation of mRNAs through their phosphorylation of the RNA 5’-cap binding protein, eukaryotic translation initiation factor (eIF) 4E. These kinases are downstream targets for mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPKs), extracellular activity regulated protein kinase (ERK) and p38. MNKs have been implicated in the sensitization of peripheral nociceptors of the dorsal root and trigeminal ganglion (DRG and TG) using transgenic mouse lines and through the use of specific inhibitors of MNK1 and MNK2. While specific knockout of the gene suggests that it is the key isoform for regulation of nociceptor excitability and nociceptive behaviors in mice, both and genes are expressed in the DRG and TG of mice and humans based on RNA sequencing experiments. Single cell sequencing in mice suggests that and may be expressed in different populations of nociceptors. We sought to characterize mRNA expression in human DRG and TG for both MNK1 and MNK2. Our results show that both genes are expressed by nearly all neurons in both human ganglia with expression in other cell types as well. Our findings provide evidence that MNK1 and MNK2 are expressed by human nociceptors and suggest that efforts to pharmacologically target MNKs for pain would likely be translatable due its conserved expression in both species.