The pain receptor TRPV1 displays agonist-dependent activation stoichiometry

Sci Rep. 2015 Jul 21;5:12278. doi: 10.1038/srep12278.


The receptor channel TRPV1 (Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1) is expressed by primary afferent sensory neurons of the pain pathway, where it functions as a sensor of noxious heat and various chemicals, including eicosanoids, capsaicin, protons and peptide toxins. Comprised of four identical subunits that organize into a non-selective cationic permeable channel, this receptor has a variety of binding sites responsible for detecting their respective agonists. Although its physiological role as a chemosensor has been described in detail, the stoichiometry of TRPV1 activation by its different ligands remains unknown. Here, we combined the use of concatemeric constructs harboring mutated binding sites with patch-clamp recordings in order to determine the stoichiometry for TRPV1 activation through the vanilloid binding site and the outer-pore domain by capsaicin and protons, respectively. We show that, while a single capsaicin-bound subunit was sufficient to achieve a maximal open-channel lifetime, all four proton-binding sites were required. Thus, our results demonstrate a distinct stoichiometry of TRPV1 activation through two of its different agonist-binding domains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating / drug effects
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • Protons
  • Rats
  • TRPV Cation Channels / agonists*
  • TRPV Cation Channels / metabolism


  • Protein Subunits
  • Protons
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • TRPV1 receptor
  • Capsaicin