PloS one

Regulation of Nav1.7: A Conserved SCN9A Natural Antisense Transcript Expressed in Dorsal Root Ganglia.

PMID 26035178


The Nav1.7 voltage-gated sodium channel, encoded by SCN9A, is critical for human pain perception yet the transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms that regulate this gene are still incompletely understood. Here, we describe a novel natural antisense transcript (NAT) for SCN9A that is conserved in humans and mice. The NAT has a similar tissue expression pattern to the sense gene and is alternatively spliced within dorsal root ganglia. The human and mouse NATs exist in cis with the sense gene in a tail-to-tail orientation and both share sequences that are complementary to the terminal exon of SCN9A/Scn9a. Overexpression analyses of the human NAT in human embryonic kidney (HEK293A) and human neuroblastoma (SH-SY5Y) cell lines show that it can function to downregulate Nav1.7 mRNA, protein levels and currents. The NAT may play an important role in regulating human pain thresholds and is a potential candidate gene for individuals with chronic pain disorders that map to the SCN9A locus, such as Inherited Primary Erythromelalgia, Paroxysmal Extreme Pain Disorder and Painful Small Fibre Neuropathy, but who do not contain mutations in the sense gene. Our results strongly suggest the SCN9A NAT as a prime candidate for new therapies based upon augmentation of existing antisense RNAs in the treatment of chronic pain conditions in man.