Functional and structural studies of TRP channels heterologously expressed in budding yeast

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2011:704:25-40. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-0265-3_2.


The transient receptor potential (TRP) superfamily is one of the largest families of cation channels. The metazoan TRP family has been subdivided into major branches: TRPC, TRPA, TRPM, TRPP, TRPV, TRPML, and TRPN, while the TRPY family is found in fungi. They are involved in many physiological processes and in the pathogenesis of various disorders. An efficient high-yield expression system for TRP channels is a necessary step towards biophysical and biochemical characterization and structural analysis of these proteins, and the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae has proven to be very useful for this purpose. In addition, genetic screens in this organism can be carried out rapidly to identify amino acid residues important for function and to generate useful mutants. Here we present an overview of current developments towards understanding TRP channel function and structure using Saccharomyces cerevisiae as an expression system. In addition, we will summarize recent progress in understanding gating mechanisms of TRP channels using endogenously expressing TRPY channels in S. cerevisiae, and insights gained from genetic screens for mutants in mammalian channels. The discussion will focus particular attention of the use of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to determine TRP channel structure, and outlines a "divide and concur" methodology for combining high resolution structures of TRP channel domains determined by X-ray crystallography with lower resolution techniques including cryo-EM and spectroscopy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Protein Conformation
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / chemistry*
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / genetics
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / physiology*


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels