• inflammatory pain;
  • protease-activated receptor 2;
  • protein kinase A;
  • protein kinase C;
  • P2X3


Proinflammatory agents trypsin and mast cell tryptase cleave and activate protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR-2), which is expressed on sensory nerves and causes neurogenic inflammation. P2X3 is a subtype of the ionotropic receptors for adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP), and is mainly localized on nociceptors. Here, we show that a functional interaction of the PAR-2 and P2X3 in primary sensory neurons could contribute to inflammatory pain. PAR-2 activation increased the P2X3 currents evoked by α, β, methylene ATP in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons. Application of inhibitors of either protein kinase C (PKC) or protein kinase A (PKA) suppressed this potentiation. Consistent with this, a PKC or PKA activator mimicked the PAR-2-mediated potentiation of P2X3 currents. In the in vitro phosphorylation experiments, application of a PAR-2 agonist failed to establish phosphorylation of the P2X3 either on the serine or the threonine site. In contrast, application of a PAR-2 agonist induced trafficking of the P2X3 from the cytoplasm to the plasma membrane. These findings indicate that PAR-2 agonists may potentiate the P2X3, and the mechanism of this potentiation is likely to be a result of translocation, but not phosphorylation. The functional interaction between P2X3 and PAR-2 was also confirmed by detection of the α, β, methylene-ATP-evoked extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) activation, a marker of neuronal signal transduction in DRG neurons, and pain behavior. These results demonstrate a functional interaction of the protease signal with the ATP signal, and a novel mechanism through which protease released in response to tissue inflammation might trigger the sensation to pain through P2X3 activation.