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Modulatory function of PI3-kinase γ in nociceptive neurons

Phosphoinositid 3-Kinase γ (PI3Kγ), the only known member of class Ib PI3K's, is activated by G-Protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), producing the second messenger phosphatidylinositol-3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP3). In addition, PI3Kγ possesses an intrinsic protein kinase activity and might express a scaffold function in the signaling network of different cells. PI3Kγ is expressed in hematopoietic cells acting as a main mediator of proliferation, differentiation, migration and survival of leukocytes. Recent studies expand these well-established cell specific functions of PI3Kγ to other cell types like cardiomyocytes. In heart PI3Kγ exhibits a negative regulatory function on the contractility by controlling the intracellular cAMP-level in concert with Phosphodiesterase 3B (PDE3B).

In the present study we describe for the first time PI3Kγ expression and functional pattern in cell types of neuronal origin. PI3Kγ-protein is expressed in small diameter neurons of dorsal root ganglia (DRG), which form widely unmyelinated C-fibers into the body's periphery. These primary sensory neurons exhibit nociceptive functions and can lead to a slow, dull and long lasting pain perception. These neurons are heavily involved in the processes of neuropathic and inflammatory pain accompanied by molecular modifications in the interplay of extra- and intracellular milieus – the playground of PI3Kγ.

Now we take advantage of the PI3Kγ-knockout mice to evaluate the impact of PI3Kγ in behavioral studies and primary dorsal root ganglia cultures. Analysis of nociceptive behaviors and studies on DRG-cultures suggest an involvement of the signaling protein in the μ-opioid-receptor path. An important regulation of the opioid-receptor system is the sensitization and desensitization of the receptors. Effects of different μ-receptor-agonists point to a differential involvement of PI3Kγ in antinociceptive signaling in primary sensory neurons.

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Correspondence to C König.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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König, C., Grün, M., Bauer, R. et al. Modulatory function of PI3-kinase γ in nociceptive neurons. Cell Commun Signal 7, A108 (2009).

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  • Dorsal Root Ganglion
  • Primary Sensory Neuron
  • Nociceptive Behavior
  • Dorsal Root Ganglion Culture
  • Cell Specific Function