Functionally distinct subtypes/clusters of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons may play different roles in nerve regeneration and pain. However, details about their transcriptomic changes under neuropathic pain conditions remain unclear. Chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve represents a well-established model of neuropathic pain, and we conducted single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) to characterize subtype-specific perturbations of transcriptomes in lumbar DRG neurons on day 7 post-CCI. By using PirtEGFPf mice that selectively express an enhanced green fluorescent protein in DRG neurons, we established a highly efficient purification process to enrich neurons for scRNA-seq. We observed the emergence of four prominent CCI-induced clusters and a loss of marker genes in injured neurons. Importantly, a portion of injured neurons from several clusters were spared from injury-induced identity loss, suggesting subtype-specific transcriptomic changes in injured neurons. Moreover, uninjured neurons, which are necessary for mediating the evoked pain, also demonstrated cell-type-specific transcriptomic perturbations in these clusters, but not in others. Notably, male and female mice showed differential transcriptomic changes in multiple neuronal clusters after CCI, suggesting transcriptomic sexual dimorphism in DRG neurons after nerve injury. Using Fgf3 as a proof-of-principle, RNAscope study provided further evidence of increased Fgf3 in injured neurons after CCI, supporting scRNA-seq analysis, and calcium imaging study unraveled a functional role of Fgf3 in neuronal excitability. These findings may contribute to the identification of new target genes and the development of DRG neuron cell-type-specific therapies for optimizing neuropathic pain treatment and nerve regeneration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)