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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Aug 2023 - 1 Sep 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology


2023 Aug 30

J Neurosci


Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is an endogenous Kv7 channel modulator that reduces Kv7/M-current suppression and inflammatory pains.


Alhassen L, Alhassen W, Wong C, Sun Y, Xia Z, Civelli O, Hoshi N


Neuronal Kv7 voltage-gate potassium channels generate the M-current and regulate neuronal excitability. Here, we report that dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is an endogenous Kv7 channel modulator that attenuates Gq-coupled receptor induced M-current suppression. DHEAS reduced muscarinic agonist-induced Kv7-current suppression of either Kv7.1, Kv7.2, Kv7.4 or Kv7.5 homomeric currents and endogenous M-currents in rat sympathetic ganglion neurons. However, DHEAS did not alter the voltage-dependence of these Kv7 homomeric channels or the m1 receptor-induced activation of phospholipase C or protein kinase C. DHEAS treated Kv7.2 homomeric currents became resistant to depletion of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) induced by voltage-activated phosphatase, Ci-VSP or eVSP. Our computational models predicted a novel binding site for DHEAS in the cytoplasmic domain of Kv7 subunits. A single point mutation of the predicted key histidine into cysteine in the rat Kv7.2 subunit, rKv7.2(H558C), resulted in a loss of effects of DHEAS on muscarinic Kv7 current suppression. Furthermore, administration of DHEAS in mice of both sexes reduced late phase pain responses in the formalin paw test. However, it did not have effects on early phase responses in the formalin paw test or responses in the hot plate test. Co-administration of a selective Kv7 inhibitor, XE991, and DHEAS eliminated analgesic effects of DHEAS in late phase responses in the formalin paw test. Collectively, these results suggest that DHEAS attenuates M-current suppression by stabilizing PIP2-Kv7 subunit interaction and can mitigate inflammatory pain.M-current suppression induced by stimulation of Gq-coupled receptors is a form of Kv7 current modulation that can reversibly increase neuronal excitability. This study demonstrates that DHEAS, an endogenous steroid hormone, is a novel Kv7 channel modulator that can attenuate M-current suppression without affecting basal Kv7 channel kinetics. Administration of DHEAS alleviated inflammatory pain in rodents. These results suggest that the degree of M-current suppression can be dynamically regulated by small molecules. Therefore, this novel form of Kv7 channel regulation holds promising potential as a therapeutic target for sensitized nervous activities such as inflammatory pain.