A Role for Protease Activated Receptor Type 3 (PAR3) in Nociception Demonstrated Through Development of a Novel Peptide Agonist

Juliet Mwirigi, Moeno Kume, Shayne N. Hassler, Ayesha Ahmad, Pradipta R. Ray, Changyu Jiang, Alexander Chamessian, Nakleh Mseeh, Breya P. Ludwig, Benjamin D. Rivera, Marvin T. Nieman, Thomas Van de Ven, Ru Rong Ji, Gregory Dussor, Scott Boitano, Josef Vagner, Theodore J. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The protease activated receptor (PAR) family is a group of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) activated by proteolytic cleavage of the extracellular domain. PARs are expressed in a variety of cell types with crucial roles in homeostasis, immune responses, inflammation, and pain. PAR3 is the least researched of the four PARs, with little known about its expression and function. We sought to better understand its potential function in the peripheral sensory nervous system. Mouse single-cell RNA sequencing data demonstrates that PAR3 is widely expressed in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Co-expression of PAR3 mRNA with other PARs was identified in various DRG neuron subpopulations, consistent with its proposed role as a coreceptor of other PARs. We developed a lipid tethered PAR3 agonist, C660, that selectively activates PAR3 by eliciting a Ca2+ response in DRG and trigeminal neurons. In vivo, C660 induces mechanical hypersensitivity and facial grimacing in WT but not PAR3−/− mice. We characterized other nociceptive phenotypes in PAR3−/− mice and found a loss of hyperalgesic priming in response to IL-6, carrageenan, and a PAR2 agonist, suggesting that PAR3 contributes to long-lasting nociceptor plasticity in some contexts. To examine the potential role of PAR3 in regulating the activity of other PARs in sensory neurons, we administered PAR1, PAR2, and PAR4 agonists and assessed mechanical and affective pain behaviors in WT and PAR3−/− mice. We observed that the nociceptive effects of PAR1 agonists were potentiated in the absence of PAR3. Our findings suggest a complex role of PAR3 in the physiology and plasticity of nociceptors. Perspective: We evaluated the role of PAR3, a G-protein coupled receptor, in nociception by developing a selective peptide agonist. Our findings suggest that PAR3 contributes to nociception in various contexts and plays a role in modulating the activity of other PARs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)692-706
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • PAR3
  • hyperalgesic priming
  • nociceptor
  • pain
  • protease activated receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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