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The ability to detect environmental cold serves as an important survival tool. The sodium channels NaV1.8 and NaV1.9, as well as the TRP channel Trpm8, have been shown to contribute to cold sensation in mice. Surprisingly, transcriptional profiling shows that NaV1.8/NaV1.9 and Trpm8 are expressed in nonoverlapping neuronal populations. Here we have used in vivo GCaMP3 imaging to identify cold-sensing populations of sensory neurons in live mice. We find that ∼80% of neurons responsive to cold down to 1 °C do not express NaV1.8, and that the genetic deletion of NaV1.8 does not affect the relative number, distribution, or maximal response of cold-sensitive neurons. Furthermore, the deletion of NaV1.8 had no observable effect on transient cold-induced (≥5 °C) behaviors in mice, as measured by the cold-plantar, cold-plate (5 and 10 °C), or acetone tests. In contrast, nocifensive-like behavior to extreme cold-plate stimulation (-5 °C) was completely absent in mice lacking NaV1.8. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and subsequent microarray analysis of sensory neurons activated at 4 °C identified an enriched repertoire of ion channels, which include the Trp channel Trpm8 and potassium channel Kcnk9, that are potentially required for cold sensing above freezing temperatures in mouse DRG neurons. These data demonstrate the complexity of cold-sensing mechanisms in mouse sensory neurons, revealing a principal role for NaV1.8-negative neurons in sensing both innocuous and acute noxious cooling down to 1 °C, while NaV1.8-positive neurons are likely responsible for the transduction of prolonged extreme cold temperatures, where tissue damage causes pan-nociceptor activation. Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


A P Luiz, D I MacDonald, S Santana-Varela, Q Millet, S Sikandar, J N Wood, E C Emery. Cold sensing by NaV1.8-positive and NaV1.8-negative sensory neurons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2019 Feb 26;116(9):3811-3816

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PMID: 30755524

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