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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Journal of Neuroscience, Volume 38, Issue 15, April 2018, Pages 3729-3740.

The published version is available at Copyright © Muqeem et al.


Presynaptic voltage-gated K+ (Kv) channels in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons are thought to regulate nociceptive synaptic transmission in the spinal dorsal horn. However, the Kv channel subtypes responsible for this critical role have not been identified. The Kv3.4 channel is particularly important because it is robustly expressed in DRG nociceptors, where it regulates action potential (AP) duration. Furthermore, Kv3.4 dysfunction is implicated in the pathophysiology of neuropathic pain in multiple pain models. We hypothesized that, through their ability to modulate AP repolarization, Kv3.4 channels in DRG nociceptors help to regulate nociceptive synaptic transmission. To test this hypothesis, we investigated Kv3.4 immunoreactivity (IR) in the rat cervical superficial dorsal horn (sDH) in both sexes and implemented an intact spinal cord preparation to investigate glutamatergic synaptic currents from second order neurons in the sDH under conditions that selectively inhibit the Kv3.4 current. We found presynaptic Kv3.4 IR in peptidergic and nonpeptidergic nociceptive fibers of the sDH. The Kv3.4 channel is hypersensitive to 4-aminopyridine and tetraethylammonium (TEA). Accordingly, 50 μM 4-aminopyridine and 500 μM TEA significantly prolong the AP, slow the maximum rate of repolarization in small-diameter DRG neurons, and potentiate monosynaptic excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) indorsalhornlaminaeIandIIthroughapresynapticmechanism.In contrast, highly specific inhibitors of BK, Kv7, and Kv1 channels are less effective modulators of the AP and have little to no effect on EPSCs. The results strongly suggest that presynaptic Kv3.4 channels are major regulators of nociceptive synaptic transmission in the spinal cord. © 2018 the authors.

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