Cellular permeation of large molecules mediated by TRPM8 channels
While most membrane channels are only capable of passing small ions, certain non-selective cation channels have been recently shown to have the capacity to permeate large cations. The mechanisms underlying large molecule permeation are unclear, but this property has been exploited pharmacologically to target molecules, such as nerve conduction blockers, to specific subsets of pain-sensing neurons (nociceptors) expressing the heat-gated transient receptor potential (TRP) channel TRPV1. However, it is not clear if the principal mediator of cold stimuli TRPM8 is capable of mediating the permeation large molecules across cell membranes, suggesting that TRPM8-positive nerves cannot be similarly targeted. Here we show that both heterologous cells and native sensory neurons expressing TRPM8 channels allow the permeation of the large fluorescent cation Po-Pro3. Po-Pro3 influx is blocked by TRPM8-specific antagonism and when channel activity is desensitized. The effects of the potent agonist WS-12 are TRPM8-specific and dye uptake mediated by TRPM8 channels is similar to that observed with TRPV1. Lastly, we find that as with TRPV1, activation of TRPM8 channels can be used as a means to target intracellular uptake of cell-impermeable sodium channel blockers. In a neuronal cell line expressing TRPM8 channels, voltage-gated sodium currents are blocked in the presence of the cell-impermeable, charged lidocaine derivative QX-314 and WS-12. These results show that the ability of somatosensory TRP channels to promote the permeation of large cations also includes TRPM8, thereby suggesting that novel approaches to alter cold pain can also be employed via conduction block in TRPM8-positive sensory neurons.
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