Background and Purpose: N-type voltage-gated calcium (Ca v 2.2) channels are critical determinants of increased neuronal excitability and neurotransmission accompanying persistent neuropathic pain. Although Ca v 2.2 channel antagonists are recommended as first-line treatment for neuropathic pain, calcium-current blocking gabapentinoids inadequately alleviate chronic pain symptoms and often exhibit numerous side effects. Collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP2) targets Ca v 2.2 channels to the sensory neuron membrane and allosterically modulates their function. A 15-amino-acid peptide (CBD3), derived from CRMP2, disrupts the functional protein–protein interaction between CRMP2 and Ca v 2.2 channels to inhibit calcium influx, transmitter release and acute, inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Here, we have mapped the minimal domain of CBD3 necessary for its antinociceptive potential. Experimental Approach: Truncated as well as homology-guided mutant versions of CBD3 were generated and assessed using depolarization-evoked calcium influx in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons, binding between CRMP2 and Ca v 2.2 channels, whole-cell voltage clamp electrophysiology and behavioural effects in two models of experimental pain: post-surgical pain and HIV-induced sensory neuropathy induced by the viral glycoprotein 120. Key Results: The first six amino acids within CBD3 accounted for all in vitro activity and antinociception. Spinal administration of a prototypical peptide (TAT-CBD3-L5M) reversed pain behaviours. Homology-guided mutational analyses of these six amino acids identified at least two residues, Ala1 and Arg4, as being critical for antinociception in two pain models. Conclusions and Implications: These results identify an antinociceptive scaffold core in CBD3 that can be used for development of low MW mimetics of CBD3. Linked Articles: This article is part of a themed section on Recent Advances in Targeting Ion Channels to Treat Chronic Pain. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v175.12/issuetoc.
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