Secreted mammalian Ly6/urokinase plasminogen activator receptor-related protein-1 (SLURP-1) is a recently identified, endogenous ligand of the α7 subunit of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. SLURP-1 is also the causative gene for an autosomal recessive palmoplantar keratoderma, Mal de Meleda. Although the function of SLURP-1 in keratinocyte development and differentiation has been extensively studied, little is known about its role in the nervous system. In the present study, we analyzed SLURP-1 expression in the spinal cord of rats, as a number of studies suggest spinal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors are important modulators of pain transmission. We detected intense SLURP-1 immunoreactivity in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, especially in lamina I and outer II. In dorsal root ganglia, SLURP-1 immunoreactivity was detected in small- to medium-sized neurons, where in situ hybridization also revealed the presence of SLURP-1 mRNA. Fluorescent labeling of SLURP-1 partially overlapped that of calcitonin-gene related peptide (CGRP) or substance P (SP) in both the spinal cord dorsal horn and glabrous skin, and electron microscopic analysis revealed colocalization of SLURP-1 with SP or CGRP, in large synaptic vesicles in terminals within the superficial layer of the spinal cord. Finally, sciatic nerve axotomy reduced levels of SLURP-1 immunoreactivity in parallel with that of SP and CGRP in the ipsilateral superficial dorsal horn. These findings suggest that SLURP-1 is expressed in a subset of primary peptidergic sensory neurons.
ASJC Scopus subject areas