Altered pain responses in mice lacking α1E subunit of the voltage-dependent Ca2+ channel

Hironao Saegusa, Takashi Kurihara, Shuqin Zong, Osamu Minowa, An A. Kazuno, Wenhua Han, Yoshihiro Matsuda, Hitomi Yamanaka, Makoto Osanai, Tetsuo Noda, Tsutomu Tanabe

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193 Citations (Scopus)


α1 subunit of the voltage-dependent Ca2+ channel is essential for channel function and determines the functional specificity of various channel types. α1E subunit was originally identified as a neuron-specific one, but the physiological function of the Ca2+ channel containing this subunit (α1E Ca2+ channel) was not clear compared with other types of Ca2+ channels because of the limited availability of specific blockers. To clarify the physiological roles of the α1E Ca2+ channel, we have generated α1E mutant (α1E-/-) mice by gene targeting. The lacZ gene was inserted in-frame and used as a marker for α1E subunit expression. α1E-/- mice showed reduced spontaneous locomotor activities and signs of timidness, but other general behaviors were apparently normal. As involvement of α1E in pain transmission was suggested by localization analyses with 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl β-D-galactopyranoside staining, we conducted several pain-related behavioral tests using the mutant mice. Although α1E+/- and α1E-/- mice exhibited normal pain behaviors against acute mechanical, thermal, and chemical stimuli, they both showed reduced responses to somatic inflammatory pain. α1E+/- mice showed reduced response to visceral inflammatory pain, whereas α1E-/- mice showed apparently normal response compared with that of wild-type mice. Furthermore, α1E-/- mice that had been presensitized with a visceral noxious conditioning stimulus showed increased responses to a somatic inflammatory pain, in marked contrast with the wild-type mice in which long-lasting effects of descending antinociceptive pathway were predominant. These results suggest that the α1E Ca2+ channel controls pain behaviors by both spinal and supraspinal mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6132-6137
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2000 May 23
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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