Background and Purpose Protease-activated receptor 2 (PAR2) is expressed on nociceptive neurons, and can sensitize transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels to amplify neurogenic inflammation and pain. The mechanisms by which this occurs are not fully understood. PAR2 causes receptor-operated activation of TRPV4 channels and TRPV4 null mice have attenuated PAR2-stimulated neurogenic inflammation and mechanical hyperalgesia. Here we investigate the intracellular signalling mechanisms underlying PAR2-induced TRPV4 channel activation and pain. Experimental Approach Responses of non-transfected and TRPV4-transfected HEK293 cells to agonists of PAR2 (trypsin and SLIGRL) and TRPV4 channels (GSK1016790A) were determined using calcium imaging. Inhibitors of TRPV4 channels (HC067047), sarcoendoplasmic reticulum calcium transport ATPase (thapsigargin), Gαq (UBO-QIC), tyrosine kinases (bafetinib and dasatinib) or PI3 kinases (wortmannin and LY294002) were used to investigate signalling mechanisms. In vivo effects of tyrosine kinase inhibitors on PAR 2-induced mechanical hyperalgesia were assessed in mice. Key Results In non-transfected HEK293 cells, PAR2 activation transiently increased intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i). Functional expression of TRPV4 channels caused a sustained increase of [Ca2+]i, inhibited by HC067047, bafetinib and wortmannin; but not by thapsigargin, UBO-QIC, dasatinib or LY294002. Bafetinib but not dasatinib inhibited PAR2-induced mechanical hyperalgesia in vivo. Conclusions and Implications This study supports a role for tyrosine kinases in PAR2-mediated receptor-operated gating of TRPV4 channels, independent of Gαq stimulation. The ability of a tyrosine kinase inhibitor to diminish PAR2-induced activation of TRPV4 channels and consequent mechanical hyperalgesia identifies bafetinib (which is in development in oncology) as a potential novel analgesic therapy.
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