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Papers of the Week

Papers: 20 May 2023 - 26 May 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Genetics, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Neuropathic Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 May 23

JCI Insight


Specific regulation of mechanical nociception by Gβ5 involves GABA-B receptors.


Pandey M, Zhang JH, Adikaram PR, Kittock CM, Lue N, Awe AM, Degner KN, Jacob N, Staples JN, Thomas R, Kohnen AB, Ganesan S, Kabat J, Chen CK, Simonds WF


Mechanical, thermal, and chemical pain sensation is conveyed by primary nociceptors, a subset of sensory afferent neurons. The intracellular regulation of the primary nociceptive signal is an area of active study. We report here the discovery of a Gβ5-dependent regulatory pathway within mechanical nociceptors that restrains anti-nociceptive input from metabotropic GABA-B receptors. In mice with conditional knockout (cKO) of Gnb5 targeted to peripheral sensory neurons, we demonstrate the impairment of mechanical, thermal, and chemical nociception. We further report the specific loss of mechanical nociception in Rgs7-Cre+/-; Gnb5fl/fl mice but not in Rgs9-Cre+/-; Gnb5fl/fl mice, suggesting that Gβ5 might specifically regulate mechanical pain in Rgs7+ cells. Additionally, Gβ5-dependent and Rgs7-associated mechanical nociception is dependent upon GABA-B receptor signaling since both were abolished by treatment with a GABA-B receptor antagonist and since cKO of Gβ5 from sensory cells or from Rgs7+ cells potentiated the analgesic effects of GABA-B agonists. Following activation by the Mrgprd agonist β-alanine, enhanced sensitivity to inhibition by baclofen was observed in primary cultures of Rgs7+ sensory neurons harvested from Rgs7-Cre+/-; Gnb5fl/fl mice. Taken together, these results suggest that the targeted inhibition of Gβ5 function in Rgs7+ sensory neurons might provide specific relief for mechanical allodynia, including that contributing to chronic neuropathic pain, without reliance on exogenous opioids.