A peptidomimetic modulator of the CaV2.2 N-type calcium channel for chronic pain

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Nov 21;120(47):e2305215120. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2305215120. Epub 2023 Nov 16.


Transmembrane Cav2.2 (N-type) voltage-gated calcium channels are genetically and pharmacologically validated, clinically relevant pain targets. Clinical block of Cav2.2 (e.g., with Prialt/Ziconotide) or indirect modulation [e.g., with gabapentinoids such as Gabapentin (GBP)] mitigates chronic pain but is encumbered by side effects and abuse liability. The cytosolic auxiliary subunit collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP2) targets Cav2.2 to the sensory neuron membrane and regulates their function via an intrinsically disordered motif. A CRMP2-derived peptide (CBD3) uncouples the Cav2.2-CRMP2 interaction to inhibit calcium influx, transmitter release, and pain. We developed and applied a molecular dynamics approach to identify the A1R2 dipeptide in CBD3 as the anchoring Cav2.2 motif and designed pharmacophore models to screen 27 million compounds on the open-access server ZincPharmer. Of 200 curated hits, 77 compounds were assessed using depolarization-evoked calcium influx in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons. Nine small molecules were tested electrophysiologically, while one (CBD3063) was also evaluated biochemically and behaviorally. CBD3063 uncoupled Cav2.2 from CRMP2, reduced membrane Cav2.2 expression and Ca2+ currents, decreased neurotransmission, reduced fiber photometry-based calcium responses in response to mechanical stimulation, and reversed neuropathic and inflammatory pain across sexes in two different species without changes in sensory, sedative, depressive, and cognitive behaviors. CBD3063 is a selective, first-in-class, CRMP2-based peptidomimetic small molecule, which allosterically regulates Cav2.2 to achieve analgesia and pain relief without negative side effect profiles. In summary, CBD3063 could potentially be a more effective alternative to GBP for pain relief.

Keywords: Cav2.2; analgesia; chronic pain; electrophysiology; peptidomimetic.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels, N-Type / genetics
  • Calcium Channels, N-Type / metabolism
  • Chronic Pain* / drug therapy
  • Chronic Pain* / metabolism
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism
  • Peptidomimetics* / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism


  • Peptidomimetics
  • Calcium
  • Calcium Channels, N-Type