Distinct potassium channels on pain-sensing neurons

Matthew N. Rasband, Eunice W. Park, Todd W. Vanderah, Josephine Lai, Frank Porreca, James S. Trimmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

309 Scopus citations


Differential expression of ion channels contributes functional diversity to sensory neuron signaling. We find nerve injury induced by the Chung model of neuropathic pain leads to striking reductions in voltage-gated K+ (Kv) channel subunit expression in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons, suggesting a potential molecular mechanism for hyperexcitability of injured nerves. Moreover, specific classes of DRG neurons express distinct Kv channel subunit combinations. Importantly, Kv1.4 is the sole Kv1 α subunit expressed in smaller diameter neurons, suggesting that homomeric Kv1.4 channels predominate in Aδ and C fibers arising from these cells. These neurons are presumably nociceptors, because they also express the VR-1 capsaicin receptor, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and/or Na+ channel SNS/PN3/Nav1.8. In contrast, larger diameter neurons associated with mechanoreception and proprioception express high levels of Kv1.1 and Kv1.2 without Kv1.4 or other Kv1 α subunits, suggesting that heteromers of these subunits predominate on large, myelinated afferent axons that extend from these cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13373-13378
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 6 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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