The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
2021 Oct 20;41(42):8673-8685
doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0570-21.2021. Epub 2021 Aug 11.

Clément Verkest Sylvie DiochotEric LinguegliaAnne Baron


Neuronal proton-gated acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) participate in the detection of tissue acidosis, a phenomenon often encountered in painful pathologic diseases. Such conditions often involve in parallel the activation of various signaling pathways such as mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPKs) that ultimately leads to phenotype modifications of sensory neurons. Here, we identify one member of the MAPKs, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), as a new post-translational positive regulator of ASICs in rodent sensory neurons. Recombinant H+-induced ASIC currents in HEK293 cells are potently inhibited within minutes by the JNK inhibitor SP600125 in a subunit-dependent manner, targeting both rodent and human ASIC1b and ASIC3 subunits (except mouse ASIC3). The regulation by JNK of recombinant ASIC1b- and ASIC3-containing channels (homomers and heteromers) is lost on mutation of a putative phosphorylation site within the intracellular N- and the C-terminal domain of the ASIC1b and ASIC3 subunit, respectively. Moreover, short-term JNK activation regulates the activity of native ASIC1b- and ASIC3-containing channels in rodent sensory neurons and is involved in the rapid potentiation of ASIC activity by the proinflammatory cytokine TNFα. Local JNK activation in vivo in mice induces a short-term potentiation of the acid-induced cutaneous pain in inflammatory conditions that is partially blocked by the ASIC1-specific inhibitor mambalgin-1. Collectively, our data identify pain-related channels as novel physiological JNK substrates in nociceptive neurons and propose JNK-dependent phosphorylation as a fast post-translational mechanism of regulation of sensory-neuron-expressed ASIC1b- and ASIC3-containing channels that may contribute to peripheral sensitization and pain hypersensitivity.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT ASICs are a class of excitatory cation channels critical for the detection of tissue acidosis, which is a hallmark of several painful diseases. Previous work in sensory neurons has shown that ASICs containing the ASIC3 or the ASIC1b subunit are important players in different pain models. We combine here functional and pharmacological in vitro and in vivo approaches to demonstrate that the MAP Kinase JNK is a potent post-translational positive regulator, probably via direct phosphorylation, of rodent and human ASIC1b- and ASIC3-containing channels. This JNK-dependent, fast post-translational mechanism of regulation of sensory-neuron-expressed ASICs may contribute to peripheral sensitization and pain hypersensitivity. These data also identify pain-related channels as direct downstream effectors of JNK in nociceptors.

Keywords: ASICs; DRG neuron; JNK; TNF-alpha; inflammation; pain; sodium channel.

C-Jun N-Terminal Kinase Post-Translational Regulation of Pain-Related Acid-Sensing Ion Channels 1b and 3