ThermoTRP channels as modular proteins with allosteric gating

Cell Calcium. 2007 Oct-Nov;42(4-5):427-38. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2007.04.004. Epub 2007 May 17.


Ion channels activate by sensing stimuli such as membrane voltage, ligand binding or temperature and transduce this information into conformational changes that open the channel pore. Thus, a key question in understanding ion channel function is how do the protein domains involved in sensing stimuli (sensors) and opening the pore (gates) communicate. In this regard, transient receptor potential (TRP) channels that confer thermosensation [A. Dhaka, V. Viswanath, A. Patapoutian, TRP ion channels and temperature sensation, Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 29 (2006) 135-161; I.S. Ramsey, M. Delling, D.E. Clapham, An introduction to TRP channels, Annu. Rev. Physiol. 68 (2006) 619-647] (thermoTRP; Q(10)>10) are unique to the extent that they integrate a variety of physical and chemical stimuli. In some cases such as, for example, the vanilloid receptor TRPV1 [M.J. Caterina, M.A. Schumacher, M. Tominaga, T.A. Rosen, J.D. Levine, D. Julius, The capsaicin receptor: a heat-activated ion channel in the pain pathway, Nature 389 (1997) 816-824] and TRPA1 [G.M. Story, A.M. Peier, A.J. Reeve, S.R. Eid, J. Mosbacher, T.R. Hricik, T.J. Earley, A.C. Hergarden, D.A. Andersson, S.W. Hwang, P. McIntyre, T. Jegla, S. Bevan, A. Patapoutian, ANKTM1, a TRP-like channel expressed in nociceptive neurons, is activated by cold temperatures, Cell 112 (2003) 819-829; S. Jordt, D. Julius, Molecular basis for species-specific sensitivity to "hot" chilli peppers, Cell 108 (2002) 421-430] the integration of these stimuli elicit pain [M. Tominaga, M.J. Caterina, A.B. Malmberg, T.A. Rosen, H. Gilbert, K. Skinner, B.E. Raumann, A.I. Basbaum, D. Julius, The cloned capsaicin receptor integrates multiple pain-producing stimuli, Neuron 21 (1998) 531-543; M. Bandell, A. Dubin, M. Petrus, A. Orth, J. Mathur, S. Hwang, A. Patapoutian, High-throughput random mutagenesis screen reveals TRPM8 residues specifically required for activation by menthol, Nat. Neurosci. 9 (2006) 466-468; S. Zurborg, B. Yurgionas, JA. Jira, O. Caspani, P.A. Heppenstall, Direct activation of the ion channel TRPA1 by Ca(2+), Nat. Neurosci. 10 (2007) 277-279]. These stimuli include voltage, pH, agonist binding, and temperature. Understanding how each of these distinct physiological signals regulate channel opening will be informative about the mechanical linkages that can act either independently or in concert to influence channel activation. In this paper we show that thermoTRP channel-forming proteins are modular in the sense that certain structure or structures (modules) confer temperature-dependent regulation, whereas others confer voltage-dependent regulation. We also discuss the thermodynamic basis of heat and cold activation in an effort to elucidate what confer to these channels the capability to be gated by temperature directly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Rats
  • TRPM Cation Channels / chemistry*
  • TRPV Cation Channels / chemistry*
  • Temperature*


  • TRPM Cation Channels
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • TRPV1 protein, human
  • Trpm8 protein, rat
  • Trpv1 protein, rat