Function and regulation of TRP family channels in C. elegans

Pflugers Arch. 2009 Sep;458(5):851-60. doi: 10.1007/s00424-009-0678-7. Epub 2009 May 8.


Seventeen transient receptor potential (TRP) family proteins are encoded by the C. elegans genome, and they cover all of the seven TRP subfamilies, including TRPC, TRPV, TRPM, TRPN, TRPA, TRPP, and TRPML. Classical forward and reverse genetic screens have isolated mutant alleles in every C. elegans trp gene, and their characterizations have revealed novel functions and regulatory mechanisms of TRP channels. For example, the TRPC channels TRP-1 and TRP-2 control nicotine-dependent behavior, while TRP-3, a sperm TRPC channel, is regulated by sperm activation and required for sperm-egg interactions during fertilization. Similar to their vertebrate counterparts, C. elegans TRPs function in sensory physiology. For instance, the TRPV channels OSM-9 and OCR-2 act in chemosensation, osmosensation, and touch sensation, the TRPA member TRPA-1 regulates touch sensation, while the TRPN channel TRP-4 mediates proprioception. Some C. elegans TRPM, TRPP, and TRPML members exhibit cellular functions similar to their vertebrate homologues and have provided insights into human diseases, including polycystic kidney disease, hypomagnesemia, and mucolipidosis type IV. The availability of a complete set of trp gene mutants in conjunction with its facile genetics makes C. elegans a powerful model for studying the function and regulation of TRP family channels in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / chemistry
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / physiology*
  • TRPC Cation Channels / physiology
  • TRPM Cation Channels / physiology
  • TRPP Cation Channels / physiology
  • TRPV Cation Channels / physiology
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / chemistry
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / physiology*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • TRPC Cation Channels
  • TRPM Cation Channels
  • TRPP Cation Channels
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels