Intracellular G-actin targeting of peripheral sensory neurons by the multifunctional engineered protein C2C confers relief from inflammatory pain

Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 30;10(1):12789. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-69612-9.


The engineered multifunctional protein C2C was tested for control of sensory neuron activity by targeted G-actin modification. C2C consists of the heptameric oligomer, C2II-CI, and the monomeric ribosylase, C2I. C2C treatment of sensory neurons and SH-SY5Y cells in vitro remodeled actin and reduced calcium influx in a reversible manner. C2C prepared using fluorescently labeled C2I showed selective in vitro C2I delivery to primary sensory neurons but not motor neurons. Delivery was dependent on presence of both C2C subunits and blocked by receptor competition. Immunohistochemistry of mice treated subcutaneously with C2C showed colocalization of subunit C2I with CGRP-positive sensory neurons and fibers but not with ChAT-positive motor neurons and fibers. The significance of sensory neuron targeting was pursued subsequently by testing C2C activity in the formalin inflammatory mouse pain model. Subcutaneous C2C administration reduced pain-like behaviors by 90% relative to untreated controls 6 h post treatment and similarly to the opioid buprenorphene. C2C effects were dose dependent, equally potent in female and male animals and did not change gross motor function. One dose was effective in 2 h and lasted 1 week. Administration of C2I without C2II-CI did not reduce pain-like behavior indicating its intracellular delivery was required for behavioral effect.