Multiple sodium channels and their roles in electrogenesis within dorsal root ganglion neurons

Authors

  • Anthony M. Rush,

    1. NeuroSolutions Ltd, PO Box 3517, Coventry CV4 7ZS, UK
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  • Theodore R. Cummins,

    1. Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA
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  • Stephen G. Waxman

    1. Department of Neurology and Center for Neuroscience & Regeneration Research, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA
    2. Rehabilitation Research Center, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT 06516, USA
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Corresponding author S. G. Waxman: Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, LCI 707, New Haven, CT 06510, USA and A. M. Rush: NeuroSolutions Ltd, PO Box 3517, Coventry CV4 7ZS, UK. Email: stephen.waxman@yale.edu and trush@neurosolutionsltd.com

Abstract

Dorsal root ganglion neurons express an array of sodium channel isoforms allowing precise control of excitability. An increasing body of literature indicates that regulation of firing behaviour in these cells is linked to their patterns of expression of specific sodium channel isoforms, which have been discovered to possess distinct biophysical characteristics. The pattern of expression of sodium channels differs in different subclasses of DRG neurons and is not fixed but, on the contrary, changes in response to a variety of disease insults. Moreover, modulation of channels by their environment has been found to play an important role in the response of these neurons to stimuli. In this review we illustrate how excitability can be finely tuned to provide contrasting firing templates in different subclasses of DRG neurons by selective deployment of various sodium channel isoforms, by plasticity of expression of these proteins, and by interactions of these sodium channel isoforms with each other and with other modulatory molecules.

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