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Studies on CRMP2 SUMOylation-deficient transgenic mice identify sex-specific NaV1.7 regulation in the pathogenesis of chronic neuropathic pain

By Aubin Moutal, Song Cai, Jie Yu, Harrison J. Stratton, Aude Chefdeville, Kimberly Gomez, Dongzhi Ran, Cynthia L Madura, Lisa Boinon, Maira Soto, Yuan Zhou, Zhiming Shan, Lindsey A. Chew, Kathleen E. Rodgers, Rajesh Khanna

Posted 21 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.20.049106 (published DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001951)

The sodium channel NaV1.7 is a master regulator of nociceptive neuronal firing. Mutations in this channel can result in painful conditions as well as produce insensitivity to pain. Despite being recognized as a 'poster child' for nociceptive signaling and human pain, targeting NaV1.7 has not yet produced a clinical drug. Recent work has illuminated the NaV1.7 interactome, offering insights into the regulation of these channels and identifying potentially new druggable targets. Amongst the regulators of NaV1.7 is the cytosolic collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP2). CRMP2, modified at Lysine 374 (K374) by addition of a small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO), bound NaV1.7 to regulate its membrane localization and function. Corollary to this, preventing CRMP2 SUMOylation was sufficient to reverse mechanical allodynia in rats with neuropathic pain. Notably, loss of CRMP2 SUMOylation did not compromise other innate functions of CRMP2. To further elucidate the in vivo role of CRMP2 SUMOylation in pain, we generated CRMP2 K374A knock-in (CRMP2K374A/K374A) mice in which Lys374 was replaced with Ala. CRMP2K374A/K374A mice had reduced NaV1.7 membrane localization and function in female, but not male, sensory neurons. Behavioral appraisal of CRMP2K374A/K374A mice demonstrated no changes in depressive or repetitive, compulsive-like behaviors, and a decrease in noxious thermal sensitivity. No changes were observed in CRMP2K374A/K374A mice to inflammatory, acute, or visceral pain. In contrast, in a neuropathic model, CRMP2K374A/K374A mice failed to develop persistent mechanical allodynia. Our study suggests that CRMP2 SUMOylation-dependent control of peripheral NaV1.7 is a hallmark of chronic, but not physiological, neuropathic pain. ### Competing Interest Statement R. Khanna is the co-founder of Regulonix LLC, a company developing non-opioids drugs for chronic pain. In addition, R. Khanna has patents US10287334 and US10441586 issued to Regulonix LLC. The other authors declare no competing financial interest.

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