Liu S, Feng J, Luo J, Yang P, Brett TJ, Hu H. Eact, a small molecule activator of TMEM16A, activates TRPV1 and elicits pain- and itch-related behaviours. Br J Pharmacol. 2016 Apr;173(7):1208-18. PMID: 26756551


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: TMEM16A, also known as anoctamin 1 channel, is a member of the Ca(2) (+) -activated chloride channels family and serves as a heat sensor in the primary nociceptors. Eact is a recently discovered small molecule activator of the TMEM16A channel. Here, we asked if Eact produces pain- and itch-related responses in vivo and investigated the cellular and molecular basis of Eact-elicited responses in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: We employed behavioural testing combined with pharmacological inhibition and genetic ablation approaches to identify transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) as the prominent mediator for Eact-evoked itch- or pain-related responses. We investigated the effects of Eact on TRPV1 and TMEM16A channels expressed in HEK293T cells and in DRG neurons isolated from wild type and Trpv1(-/-) mice using Ca(2) (+) imaging and patch-clamp recordings. We also used site-directed mutagenesis to determine the molecular basis of Eact activation of TRPV1.

KEY RESULTS: Administration of Eact elicited both itch- and pain-related behaviours. Unexpectedly, the Eact-elicited behavioural responses were dependent on the function of TRPV1, as shown by pharmacological inhibition and genetic ablation studies. Eact activated membrane currents and increased intracellular free Ca(2) (+) in both TRPV1-expressing HEK293T cells and isolated DRG neurons in a TRPV1-dependent manner. Eact activation of the TRPV1 channel was severely attenuated by mutations disrupting the capsaicin-binding sites.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Our results suggest that Eact activates primary sensory nociceptors and produces both pain and itch responses mainly through direct activation of TRPV1 channels.

 Hongzhen Hu  Hu Lab  PubMed