Nerve injury–induced changes of gene expression in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) are critical for neuropathic pain genesis. However, how these changes occur remains elusive. Here we report the down-regulation of zinc finger protein 382 (ZNF382) in injured DRG neurons after nerve injury. Rescuing this down-regulation attenuates nociceptive hypersensitivity. Conversely, mimicking this down-regulation produces neuropathic pain symptoms, which are alleviated by C-X-C motif chemokine 13 (CXCL13) knockdown or its receptor CXCR5 knockout. Mechanistically, an identified cis-acting silencer at distal upstream of the Cxcl13 promoter suppresses Cxcl13 transcription via binding to ZNF382. Blocking this binding or genetically deleting this silencer abolishes the ZNF382 suppression on Cxcl13 transcription and impairs ZNF382-induced antinociception. Moreover, ZNF382 down-regulation disrupts the repressive epigenetic complex containing histone deacetylase 1 and SET domain bifurcated 1 at the silencer-promoter loop, resulting in Cxcl13 transcriptional activation. Thus, ZNF382 down-regulation is required for neuropathic pain likely through silencer-based epigenetic disinhibition of CXCL13, a key neuropathic pain player, in DRG neurons.

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