Connexin (Cx) proteins and gap junctions support the formation of neuronal and glial syncytia that are linked to different forms of rhythmic firing and oscillatory activity in the CNS. In this study, quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) was used to profile developmental expression of two specific Cx proteins, namely glial Cx43 and neuronal Cx36, in postnatal lumbar spinal cord aged 4, 7, and 14 days. Extracellular electrophysiology was used to determine the contribution of Cx36 and Cx43 to a previously described form of 4-aminopyridine (4-AP)-induced 4-12 Hz rhythmic activity within substantia gelatinosa (SG) of rat neonatal dorsal horn (DH) in vitro. The involvement of Cx36 and Cx43 was probed pharmacologically using quinine, a specific uncoupler of Cx36 and the mimetic peptide blocker Gap 26 which targets Cx43. After establishment of 4-12 Hz rhythmic activity by 4-AP (25 mumol/L), coapplication of quinine (250 mumol/L) reduced 4-AP-induced 4-12 Hz rhythmic activity (P <0.05). Preincubation of spinal cord slices with Gap 26 (100 mumol/L), compromised the level of 4-AP-induced 4-12 Hz rhythmic activity in comparison with control slices preincubated in ACSF alone (P <0.05). Conversely, the nonselective gap junction "opener" trimethylamine (TMA) enhanced 4-12 Hz rhythmic behavior (P <0.05), further supporting a role for Cx proteins and gap junctions. These data have defined a physiological role for Cx36 and Cx43 in rhythmic firing in SG, a key nociceptive processing area of DH. The significance of these data in the context of pain and Cx proteins as a future analgesic drug target requires further study.Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Physiological Reports published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of the American Physiological Society and The Physiological Society.
Kay, C. W. P., Ursu, D., Sher, E., & King, A. E. (2016). The role of Cx36 and Cx43 in 4-aminopyridine-induced rhythmic activity in the spinal nociceptive dorsal horn: an electrophysiological study in vitro. Physiological Reports, 4(14). https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.12852