Nature communications

Semaphorin 4C Plexin-B2 signaling in peripheral sensory neurons is pronociceptive in a model of inflammatory pain.

PMID 28765520


Semaphorins and their transmembrane receptors, Plexins, are key regulators of axon guidance and development of neuronal connectivity. B-type Plexins respond to Class IV semaphorins and mediate a variety of developmental functions. Here we report that the expression of Plexin-B2 and its high-affinity ligand, Sema4C, persists in peripheral sensory neurons in adult life and is markedly increased in states of persistent pain in mice. Genetic deletion of Sema4C as well as adult-onset loss of Plexin-B2 leads to impairment of the development and duration of inflammatory hypersensitivity. Remarkably, unlike the neurodevelopmental functions of Plexin-B2 that solely rely on Ras signaling, we obtained genetic and pharmacological evidence for a requirement of RhoA-ROCK-dependent mechanisms as well as TRPA1 sensitization in pronociceptive functions of Sema4C-Plexin-B2 signaling in adult life. These results suggest important roles for Plexin-B2 signaling in sensory function that may be of therapeutic relevance in pathological pain.Semaphorins and their receptors are involved in neurodevelopment, but their functions in the adult nervous system are not fully understood. This study finds that semaphorin 4C and its receptor Plexin B are expressed in sensory neurons and are pronociceptive in a mouse model of inflammatory pain.