Proteomic analysis uncovers novel actions of the neurosecretory protein VGF in nociceptive processing.
BACKGROUND SSeCKS (Src SupprEssed C Kinase Substrate) is a proposed protein kinase C substrate/A kinase anchoring protein (AKAP) that has recently been characterized in the rat peripheral nervous system. It has been shown that approximately 40% of small primary sensory neurons contain SSeCKS-immunoreactivity in a population largely separate from substance P (95.2%), calcitonin gene related peptide (95.3%), or fluoride resistant acid phosphatase (55.0%) labeled cells. In the spinal cord, it was found that SSeCKS-immunoreactive axon collaterals terminate in the dorsal third of lamina II outer in a region similar to that of unmyelinated C-, or small diameter myelinated Adelta-, fibers. However, the precise characterization of the anatomical profile of the primary sensory neurons containing SSeCKS remains to be determined. Here, immunohistochemical labeling at the light and ultrastructural level is used to clarify the myelination status of SSeCKS-containing sensory neuron axons and to further clarify the morphometric, and provide insight into the functional, classification of SSeCKS-IR sensory neurons. METHODS Colocalization studies of SSeCKS with myelination markers, ultrastructural localization of SSeCKS labeling and ablation of largely unmyelinated sensory fibers by neonatal capsaicin administration were all used to establish whether SSeCKS containing sensory neurons represent a subpopulation of unmyelinated primary sensory C-fibers. RESULTS Double labeling studies of SSeCKS with CNPase in the dorsal horn and Pzero in the periphery showed that SSeCKS immunoreactivity was observed predominantly in association with unmyelinated primary sensory fibers. At the ultrastructural level, SSeCKS immunoreactivity was most commonly associated with axonal membrane margins of unmyelinated fibers. In capsaicin treated rats, SSeCKS immunoreactivity was essentially obliterated in the dorsal horn while in dorsal root ganglia quantitative analysis revealed a 43% reduction in the number of SSeCKS-labeled cells. This attenuation is concomitant with a decrease in fluoride-resistant acid phosphatase labeled fibers in the spinal cord dorsal horn and small neuronal somata in sensory ganglia. CONCLUSION These results demonstrate that SSeCKS is primarily localized within a distinct subpopulation of small diameter, largely unmyelinated C-fiber primary sensory neurons putatively involved in nociception.