Metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors play important roles in the modulation of nociception. Previous studies demonstrated that mGlu5 modulates nociceptive plasticity via activation of ERK signaling. We have reported recently that the Kv4.2 K(+) channel subunit underlies A-type currents in spinal cord dorsal horn neurons and that this channel is modulated by mGlu5-ERK signaling. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that modulation of Kv4.2 by mGlu5 occurs in excitatory spinal dorsal horn neurons. With the use of a transgenic mouse strain expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (GFP) under control of the promoter for the γ-amino butyric acid (GABA)-synthesizing enzyme, glutamic acid decarboxylase 67 (GAD67), we found that these GABAergic neurons express less Kv4.2-mediated A-type current than non-GAD67-GFP neurons. Furthermore, the mGlu1/5 agonist, (R,S)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine, had no modulatory effects on A-type currents or neuronal excitability in this subgroup of GABAergic neurons but robustly modulated A-type currents and neuronal excitability in non-GFP-expressing neurons. Immunofluorescence studies revealed that Kv4.2 was highly colocalized with markers of excitatory neurons, such as vesicular glutamate transporter 1/2, PKCγ, and neurokinin 1, in cultured dorsal horn neurons. These results indicate that mGlu5-Kv4.2 signaling is associated with excitatory dorsal horn neurons and suggest that the pronociceptive effects of mGlu5 activation in the spinal cord likely involve enhanced excitability of excitatory neurons.
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