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Papers of the Week

Papers: 3 Jun 2023 - 9 Jun 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Genetics, Neurobiology

Neuropathic Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Nov

Neural Regen Res




Epigenetic combined with transcriptomic analysis of the m6A methylome after spared nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain in mice.


Zeng F, Cao J, Hong Z, Lu Y, Qin Z, Tao T


Epigenetic changes in the spinal cord play a key role in the initiation and maintenance of nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain. N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is one of the most abundant internal RNA modifications and plays an essential function in gene regulation in many diseases. However, the global m6A modification status of mRNA in the spinal cord at different stages after neuropathic pain is unknown. In this study, we established a neuropathic pain model in mice by preserving the complete sural nerve and only damaging the common peroneal nerve. High-throughput methylated RNA immunoprecipitation sequencing results showed that after spared nerve injury, there were 55 m6A methylated and differentially expressed genes in the spinal cord. Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway results showed that m6A modification triggered inflammatory responses and apoptotic processes in the early stages after spared nerve injury. Over time, the differential gene function at postoperative day 7 was enriched in “positive regulation of neurogenesis” and “positive regulation of neural precursor cell proliferation.” These functions suggested that altered synaptic morphological plasticity was a turning point in neuropathic pain formation and maintenance. Results at postoperative day 14 suggested that the persistence of neuropathic pain might be from lipid metabolic processes, such as “very-low-density lipoprotein particle clearance,” “negative regulation of cholesterol transport” and “membrane lipid catabolic process.” We detected the expression of m6A enzymes and found elevated mRNA expression of Ythdf2 and Ythdf3 after spared nerve injury modeling. We speculate that m6A reader enzymes also have an important role in neuropathic pain. These results provide a global landscape of mRNA m6A modifications in the spinal cord in the spared nerve injury model at different stages after injury.