Transcriptomics in pain research: insights from new and old technologies
Despite significant advances in our understanding of the molecular basis of pain, the precise contributions of individual genes to our perception of this primal sensation remains incomplete. However, transcriptomic studies – providing a snapshot of the mRNA expression of a given cell or tissue – have considerably increased insight into the gene expression fingerprint of specific sensory neuronal subtypes, as well as gene expression changes that occur in diverse pathologies associated with pain. Moreover, transcriptomic studies have accelerated the identification of venom-derived peptides that may provide novel leads for the development of analgesics. This review discusses some of the key techniques, insights and limitations of transcriptomic studies that have contributed to pain research and highlights how the application of transcriptomics can be used to accelerate analgesic venom peptide drug discovery.