Professional Education

  • Licence, Universite De Montpellier (2008)
  • Master of Science, Universite De Montpellier (2013)
  • Doctorat, Universite De Montpellier (2013)

Research & Scholarship

Lab Affiliations


All Publications

  • The Low-Threshold Calcium Channel Cav3.2 Determines Low-Threshold Mechanoreceptor Function. Cell reports François, A., Schüetter, N., Laffray, S., Sanguesa, J., Pizzoccaro, A., Dubel, S., Mantilleri, A., Nargeot, J., Noël, J., Wood, J. N., Moqrich, A., Pongs, O., Bourinet, E. 2015


    The T-type calcium channel Cav3.2 emerges as a key regulator of sensory functions, but its expression pattern within primary afferent neurons and its contribution to modality-specific signaling remain obscure. Here, we elucidate this issue using a unique knockin/flox mouse strain wherein Cav3.2 is replaced by a functional Cav3.2-surface-ecliptic GFP fusion. We demonstrate that Cav3.2 is a selective marker of two major low-threshold mechanoreceptors (LTMRs), Aδ- and C-LTMRs, innervating the most abundant skin hair follicles. The presence of Cav3.2 along LTMR-fiber trajectories is consistent with critical roles at multiple sites, setting their strong excitability. Strikingly, the C-LTMR-specific knockout uncovers that Cav3.2 regulates light-touch perception and noxious mechanical cold and chemical sensations and is essential to build up that debilitates allodynic symptoms of neuropathic pain, a mechanism thought to be entirely A-LTMR specific. Collectively, our findings support a fundamental role for Cav3.2 in touch/pain pathophysiology, validating their critic pharmacological relevance to relieve mechanical and cold allodynia.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.12.042

    View details for PubMedID 25600872

  • The Deubiquitinating Enzyme USP5 Modulates Neuropathic and Inflammatory Pain by Enhancing Ca(v)3.2 Channel Activity NEURON Garcia-Caballero, A., Gadotti, V. M., Stemkowski, P., Weiss, N., Souza, I. A., Hodgkinson, V., Bladen, C., Chen, L., Hamid, J., Pizzoccaro, A., Deage, M., Francois, A., Bourinet, E., Zamponi, G. W. 2014; 83 (5): 1144-1158


    T-type calcium channels are essential contributors to the transmission of nociceptive signals in the primary afferent pain pathway. Here, we show that T-type calcium channels are ubiquitinated by WWP1, a plasma-membrane-associated ubiquitin ligase that binds to the intracellular domain III-IV linker region of the Cav3.2 T-type channel and modifies specific lysine residues in this region. A proteomic screen identified the deubiquitinating enzyme USP5 as a Cav3.2 III-IV linker interacting partner. Knockdown of USP5 via shRNA increases Cav3.2 ubiquitination, decreases Cav3.2 protein levels, and reduces Cav3.2 whole-cell currents. In vivo knockdown of USP5 or uncoupling USP5 from native Cav3.2 channels via intrathecal delivery of Tat peptides mediates analgesia in both inflammatory and neuropathic mouse models of mechanical hypersensitivity. Altogether, our experiments reveal a cell signaling pathway that regulates T-type channel activity and their role in nociceptive signaling.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.07.036

    View details for Web of Science ID 000341419000016

    View details for PubMedID 25189210

  • Ca(v)3.2 calcium channels: The key protagonist in the supraspinal effect of paracetamol PAIN Kerckhove, N., Mallet, C., Francois, A., Boudes, M., Chemin, J., Voets, T., Bourinet, E., Alloui, A., Eschalier, A. 2014; 155 (4): 764-772


    To exert its analgesic action, paracetamol requires complex metabolism to produce a brain-specific lipoamino acid compound, AM404, which targets central transient receptor potential vanilloid receptors (TRPV1). Lipoamino acids are also known to induce analgesia through T-type calcium-channel inhibition (Ca(v)3.2). In this study we show that the antinociceptive effect of paracetamol in mice is lost when supraspinal Ca(v)3.2 channels are inhibited. Therefore, we hypothesized a relationship between supraspinal Ca(v)3.2 and TRPV1, via AM404, which mediates the analgesic effect of paracetamol. AM404 is able to activate TRPV1 and weakly inhibits Ca(v)3.2. Interestingly, activation of TRPV1 induces a strong inhibition of Ca(v)3.2 current. Supporting this, intracerebroventricular administration of AM404 or capsaicin produces antinociception that is lost in Ca(v)3.2(-/-) mice. Our study, for the first time, (1) provides a molecular mechanism for the supraspinal antinociceptive effect of paracetamol; (2) identifies the relationship between TRPV1 and the Ca(v)3.2 channel; and (3) suggests supraspinal Ca(v)3.2 inhibition as a potential pharmacological strategy to alleviate pain.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pain.2014.01.015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000333102400016

    View details for PubMedID 24447516

  • T-type calcium channels in chronic pain: mouse models and specific blockers PFLUGERS ARCHIV-EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY Francois, A., Laffray, S., Pizzoccaro, A., Eschalier, A., Bourinet, E. 2014; 466 (4): 707-717


    Pain is a quite frequent complaint accompanying numerous pathologies. Among these pathological cases, neuropathies are retrieved with identified etiologies (chemotherapies, diabetes, surgeries…) and also more diffuse syndromes such as fibromyalgia. More broadly, pain is one of the first consequences of the majority of inherited diseases. Despite its importance for the quality of life, current pain management is limited to drugs that are either old or with a limited efficacy or that possess a bad benefit/risk ratio. As no new pharmacological concept has led to new analgesics in the last decades, the discovery of medications is needed, and to this aim the identification of new druggable targets in pain transmission is a first step. Therefore, studies of ion channels in pain pathways are extremely active. This is particularly true with ion channels in peripheral sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) known now to express unique sets of these channels. Moreover, both spinal and supraspinal levels are clearly important in pain modulation. Among these ion channels, we and others revealed the important role of low voltage-gated calcium channels in cellular excitability in different steps of the pain pathways. These channels, by being activated nearby resting membrane potential have biophysical characteristics suited to facilitate action potential generation and rhythmicity. In this review, we will review the current knowledge on the role of these channels in the perception and modulation of pain.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00424-014-1484-4

    View details for Web of Science ID 000333030100009

    View details for PubMedID 24590509

  • Delta Opioid Receptors Presynaptically Regulate Cutaneous Mechanosensory Neuron Input to the Spinal Cord Dorsal Horn NEURON Bardoni, R., Tawfik, V. L., Wang, D., Francois, A., Solorzano, C., Shuster, S. A., Choudhury, P., Betelli, C., Cassidy, C., Smith, K., de Nooij, J. C., Mennicken, F., O'Donnell, D., Kieffer, B. L., Woodbury, C. J., Basbaum, A. I., MacDermott, A. B., Scherrer, G. 2014; 81 (6): 1312-1327


    Cutaneous mechanosensory neurons detect mechanical stimuli that generate touch and pain sensation. Although opioids are generally associated only with the control of pain, here we report that the opioid system in fact broadly regulates cutaneous mechanosensation, including touch. This function is predominantly subserved by the delta opioid receptor (DOR), which is expressed by myelinated mechanoreceptors that form Meissner corpuscles, Merkel cell-neurite complexes, and circumferential hair follicle endings. These afferents also include a small population of CGRP-expressing myelinated nociceptors that we now identify as the somatosensory neurons that coexpress mu and delta opioid receptors. We further demonstrate that DOR activation at the central terminals of myelinated mechanoreceptors depresses synaptic input to the spinal dorsal horn, via the inhibition of voltage-gated calcium channels. Collectively our results uncover a molecular mechanism by which opioids modulate cutaneous mechanosensation and provide a rationale for targeting DOR to alleviate injury-induced mechanical hypersensitivity.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.01.044

    View details for Web of Science ID 000333326000012

    View details for PubMedID 24583022

  • TAFA4, a Chemokine-like Protein, Modulates Injury-Induced Mechanical and Chemical Pain Hypersensitivity in Mice CELL REPORTS Delfini, M., Mantilleri, A., Gaillard, S., Hao, J., Reynders, A., Malapert, P., Alonso, S., Francois, A., Barrere, C., Seal, R., Landry, M., Eschallier, A., Alloui, A., Bourinet, E., Delmas, P., Le Feuvre, Y., Moqrich, A. 2013; 5 (2): 378-388


    C-low-threshold mechanoreceptors (C-LTMRs) are unique among C-unmyelinated primary sensory neurons. These neurons convey two opposite aspects of touch sensation: a sensation of pleasantness, and a sensation of injury-induced mechanical pain. Here, we show that TAFA4 is a specific marker of C-LTMRs. Genetic labeling in combination with electrophysiological recordings show that TAFA4+ neurons have intrinsic properties of mechano-nociceptors. TAFA4-null mice exhibit enhanced mechanical and chemical hypersensitivity following inflammation and nerve injury as well as increased excitability of spinal cord lamina IIi neurons, which could be reversed by intrathecal or bath application of recombinant TAFA4 protein. In wild-type C57/Bl6 mice, intrathecal administration of TAFA4 strongly reversed carrageenan-induced mechanical hypersensitivity, suggesting a potent analgesic role of TAFA4 in pain relief. Our data provide insights into how C-LTMR-derived TAFA4 modulates neuronal excitability and controls the threshold of somatic sensation.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.09.013

    View details for Web of Science ID 000328263000011

    View details for PubMedID 24139797

  • State-dependent properties of a new T-type calcium channel blocker enhance Ca(V)3.2 selectivity and support analgesic effects PAIN Francois, A., Kerckhove, N., Meleine, M., Alloui, A., Barrere, C., Gelot, A., Uebele, V. N., Renger, J. J., Eschalier, A., Ardid, D., Bourinet, E. 2013; 154 (2): 283-293


    T-type calcium channels encoded by the Ca(V)3.2 isoform are expressed in nociceptive primary afferent neurons where they contribute to hyperalgesia and thus are considered as a potential therapeutic target to treat pathological pain. Here we report that the small organic state-dependent T-type channel antagonist TTA-A2 efficiently inhibits recombinant and native Ca(V)3.2 currents. Although TTA-A2 is a pan Ca(V)3 blocker, it demonstrates a higher potency for Ca(V)3.2 compared to Ca(V)3.1. TTA-A2 selectivity for T-type currents was demonstrated in sensory neurons where it lowered cell excitability uniquely on neurons expressing T-type channels. In vivo pharmacology in Ca(V)3.2 knockout and wild type mice reveal that TTA-A2-mediated antinociception critically depends on Ca(V)3.2 expression. The pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was recently demonstrated to involve Ca(V)3.2 in a rat model of this disease. Oral administration of TTA-A2 produced a dose-dependent reduction of hypersensitivity in an IBS model, demonstrating its therapeutic potential for the treatment of pathological pain. Overall, our results suggest that the high potency of TTA-A2 in the depolarized state strengthen its analgesic efficacy and selectivity toward pathological pain syndromes. This characteristic would be beneficial for the development of analgesics targeting T-type channels, in particular for the treatment of pain associated with IBS.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pain.2012.10.023

    View details for Web of Science ID 000313740700018

    View details for PubMedID 23257507

  • Oxaliplatin-induced cold hypersensitivity is due to remodelling of ion channel expression in nociceptors EMBO MOLECULAR MEDICINE Descoeur, J., Pereira, V., Pizzoccaro, A., Francois, A., Ling, B., Maffre, V., Couette, B., Busserolles, J., Courteix, C., Noel, J., Lazdunski, M., Eschalier, A., Authier, N., Bourinet, E. 2011; 3 (5): 266-278


    Cold hypersensitivity is the hallmark of oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy, which develops in nearly all patients under this chemotherapy. To date, pain management strategies have failed to alleviate these symptoms, hence development of adapted analgesics is needed. Here, we report that oxaliplatin exaggerates cold perception in mice as well as in patients. These symptoms are mediated by primary afferent sensory neurons expressing the thermoreceptor TRPM8. Mechanistically, oxaliplatin promotes over-excitability by drastically lowering the expression of distinct potassium channels (TREK1, TRAAK) and by increasing the expression of pro-excitatory channels such as the hyperpolarization-activated channels (HCNs). These findings are corroborated by the analysis of TREK1-TRAAK null mice and use of the specific HCN inhibitor ivabradine, which abolishes the oxaliplatin-induced cold hypersensibility. These results suggest that oxaliplatin exacerbates cold perception by modulating the transcription of distinct ionic conductances that together shape sensory neuron responses to cold. The translational and clinical implication of these findings would be that ivabradine may represent a tailored treatment for oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/emmm.201100134

    View details for Web of Science ID 000291236100004

    View details for PubMedID 21438154

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