Transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) is a polymodal excitatory ion channel found in sensory neurons of different organisms, ranging from worms to humans. Since its discovery as an uncharacterized transmembrane protein in human fibroblasts, TRPA1 has become one of the most intensively studied ion channels. Its function has been linked to regulation of heat and cold perception, mechanosensitivity, hearing, inflammation, pain, circadian rhythms, chemoreception, and other processes. Some of these proposed functions remain controversial, while others have gathered considerable experimental support. A truly polymodal ion channel, TRPA1 is activated by various stimuli, including electrophilic chemicals, oxygen, temperature, and mechanical force, yet the molecular mechanism of TRPA1 gating remains obscure. In this review, we discuss recent advances in the understanding of TRPA1 physiology, pharmacology, and molecular function.
Keywords: Chemical sensors; Covalent and noncovalent modifications; Ion channels; Molecular evolution; TRPA1; Temperature activation.