Voltage-gated ion channels mediate electrical dynamics in excitable tissues and are an important class of drug targets. Channels can gate in sub-millisecond timescales, show complex manifolds of conformational states, and often show state-dependent pharmacology. Mechanistic studies of ion channels typically involve sophisticated voltage-clamp protocols applied through manual or automated electrophysiology. Here, we develop all-optical electrophysiology techniques to study activity-dependent modulation of ion channels, in a format compatible with high-throughput screening. Using optical electrophysiology, we recapitulate many voltage-clamp protocols and apply to Nav1.7, a channel implicated in pain. Optical measurements reveal that a sustained depolarization strongly potentiates the inhibitory effect of PF-04856264, a Nav1.7-specific blocker. In a pilot screen, we stratify a library of 320 FDA-approved compounds by binding mechanism and kinetics, and find close concordance with patch clamp measurements. Optical electrophysiology provides a favorable tradeoff between throughput and information content for studies of NaV channels, and possibly other voltage-gated channels.
- Indira M Raman, Northwestern University, United States
© 2016, Zhang et al.
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Cochlear sound encoding depends on α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid receptors (AMPARs), but reliance on specific pore-forming subunits is unknown. With 5-week-old male C57BL/6J Gria3-knockout mice (i.e., subunit GluA3KO) we determined cochlear function, synapse ultrastructure, and AMPAR molecular anatomy at ribbon synapses between inner hair cells (IHCs) and spiral ganglion neurons. GluA3KO and wild-type (GluA3WT) mice reared in ambient sound pressure level (SPL) of 55–75 dB had similar auditory brainstem response (ABR) thresholds, wave-1 amplitudes, and latencies. Postsynaptic densities (PSDs), presynaptic ribbons, and synaptic vesicle sizes were all larger on the modiolar side of the IHCs from GluA3WT, but not GluA3KO, demonstrating GluA3 is required for modiolar–pillar synapse differentiation. Presynaptic ribbons juxtaposed with postsynaptic GluA2/4 subunits were similar in quantity, however, lone ribbons were more frequent in GluA3KO and GluA2-lacking synapses were observed only in GluA3KO. GluA2 and GluA4 immunofluorescence volumes were smaller on the pillar side than the modiolar side in GluA3KO, despite increased pillar-side PSD size. Overall, the fluorescent puncta volumes of GluA2 and GluA4 were smaller in GluA3KO than GluA3WT. However, GluA3KO contained less GluA2 and greater GluA4 immunofluorescence intensity relative to GluA3WT (threefold greater mean GluA4:GluA2 ratio). Thus, GluA3 is essential in development, as germline disruption of Gria3 caused anatomical synapse pathology before cochlear output became symptomatic by ABR. We propose the hearing loss in older male GluA3KO mice results from progressive synaptopathy evident in 5-week-old mice as decreased abundance of GluA2 subunits and an increase in GluA2-lacking, GluA4-monomeric Ca2+-permeable AMPARs.
Relief of ongoing pain is a potent motivator of behavior, directing actions to escape from or reduce potentially harmful stimuli. Whereas endogenous modulation of pain events is well characterized, relatively little is known about the modulation of pain relief and its corresponding neurochemical basis. Here we studied pain modulation during a probabilistic relief-seeking task (a 'wheel of fortune' gambling task), in which people actively or passively received reduction of a tonic thermal pain stimulus. We found that relief perception was enhanced by active decisions and unpredictability, and greater in high novelty-seeking trait individuals, consistent with a model in which relief is tuned by its informational content. We then probed the roles of dopaminergic and opioidergic signaling, both of which are implicated in relief processing, by embedding the task in a double-blinded cross-over design with administration of the dopamine precursor levodopa and the opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone. We found that levodopa enhanced each of these information-specific aspects of relief modulation but no significant effects of the opioidergic manipulation. These results show that dopaminergic signaling has a key role in modulating the perception of pain relief to optimize motivation and behavior.