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      An SCN9A channelopathy causes congenital inability to experience pain

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          Abstract

          The complete inability to sense pain in an otherwise healthy individual is a very rare phenotype. In three consanguineous families from northern Pakistan, we mapped the condition as an autosomal-recessive trait to chromosome 2q24.3. This region contains the gene SCN9A, encoding the alpha-subunit of the voltage-gated sodium channel, Na(v)1.7, which is strongly expressed in nociceptive neurons. Sequence analysis of SCN9A in affected individuals revealed three distinct homozygous nonsense mutations (S459X, I767X and W897X). We show that these mutations cause loss of function of Na(v)1.7 by co-expression of wild-type or mutant human Na(v)1.7 with sodium channel beta(1) and beta(2) subunits in HEK293 cells. In cells expressing mutant Na(v)1.7, the currents were no greater than background. Our data suggest that SCN9A is an essential and non-redundant requirement for nociception in humans. These findings should stimulate the search for novel analgesics that selectively target this sodium channel subunit.

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          Most cited references 28

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          International Union of Pharmacology. XLVII. Nomenclature and structure-function relationships of voltage-gated sodium channels.

          The family of voltage-gated sodium channels initiates action potentials in all types of excitable cells. Nine members of the voltage-gated sodium channel family have been characterized in mammals, and a 10th member has been recognized as a related protein. These distinct sodium channels have similar structural and functional properties, but they initiate action potentials in different cell types and have distinct regulatory and pharmacological properties. This article presents the molecular relationships and physiological roles of these sodium channel proteins and provides comprehensive information on their molecular, genetic, physiological, and pharmacological properties.
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            Mutations in SCN9A, encoding a sodium channel alpha subunit, in patients with primary erythermalgia.

            Primary erythermalgia is a rare autosomal dominant disease characterised by intermittent burning pain with redness and heat in the extremities. A previous study established the linkage of primary erythermalgia to a 7.94 cM interval on chromosome 2q, but the causative gene was not identified. We performed linkage analysis in a Chinese family with primary erythermalgia, and screened the mutations in the two candidate genes, SCN9A and GCA, in the family and a sporadic patient. Linkage analysis yielded a maximum lod score of 2.11 for both markers D2S2370 and D2S2330. Based on critical recombination events in two patients in the family, we further limited the genetic region to 5.98 cM between D2S2370 and D2S2345. We then identified two missense mutations in SCN9A in the family (T2573A) and the sporadic patient (T2543C). Our data suggest that mutations in SCN9A cause primary erythermalgia. SCN9A, encoding a voltage-gated sodium channel alpha subunit predominantly expressed in sensory and sympathetic neurones, may play an important role in nociception and vasomotor regulation.
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              Nociceptor-specific gene deletion reveals a major role for Nav1.7 (PN1) in acute and inflammatory pain.

              Nine voltage-gated sodium channels are expressed in complex patterns in mammalian nerve and muscle. Three channels, Na(v)1.7, Na(v)1.8, and Na(v)1.9, are expressed selectively in peripheral damage-sensing neurons. Because there are no selective blockers of these channels, we used gene ablation in mice to examine the function of Na(v)1.7 (PN1) in pain pathways. A global Na(v)1.7-null mutant was found to die shortly after birth. We therefore used the Cre-loxP system to generate nociceptor-specific knockouts. Na(v)1.8 is only expressed in peripheral, mainly nociceptive, sensory neurons. We knocked Cre recombinase into the Na(v)1.8 locus to generate heterozygous mice expressing Cre recombinase in Na(v)1.8-positive sensory neurons. Crossing these animals with mice where Na(v)1.7 exons 14 and 15 were flanked by loxP sites produced nociceptor-specific knockout mice that were viable and apparently normal. These animals showed increased mechanical and thermal pain thresholds. Remarkably, all inflammatory pain responses evoked by a range of stimuli, such as formalin, carrageenan, complete Freund's adjuvant, or nerve growth factor, were reduced or abolished. A congenital pain syndrome in humans recently has been mapped to the Na(v)1.7 gene, SCN9A. Dominant Na(v)1.7 mutations lead to edema, redness, warmth, and bilateral pain in human erythermalgia patients, confirming an important role for Na(v)1.7 in inflammatory pain. Nociceptor-specific gene ablation should prove useful in understanding the role of other broadly expressed genes in pain pathways.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                December 2006
                December 2006
                : 444
                : 7121
                : 894-898
                Article
                10.1038/nature05413
                17167479
                © 2006

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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