Animal Toxins Providing Insights into TRPV1 Activation Mechanism

Toxins (Basel). 2017 Oct 16;9(10):326. doi: 10.3390/toxins9100326.


Beyond providing evolutionary advantages, venoms offer unique research tools, as they were developed to target functionally important proteins and pathways. As a key pain receptor in the nociceptive pathway, transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) of the TRP superfamily has been shown to be a target for several toxins, as a way of producing pain to deter predators. Importantly, TRPV1 is involved in thermoregulation, inflammation, and acute nociception. As such, toxins provide tools to understand TRPV1 activation and modulation, a critical step in advancing pain research and the development of novel analgesics. Indeed, the phytotoxin capsaicin, which is the spicy chemical in chili peppers, was invaluable in the original cloning and characterization of TRPV1. The unique properties of each subsequently characterized toxin have continued to advance our understanding of functional, structural, and biophysical characteristics of TRPV1. By building on previous reviews, this work aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the advancements made in TRPV1 research in recent years by employing animal toxins, in particular DkTx, RhTx, BmP01, Echis coloratus toxins, APHCs and HCRG21. We examine each toxin's functional aspects, behavioral effects, and structural features, all of which have contributed to our current knowledge of TRPV1. We additionally discuss the key features of TRPV1's outer pore domain, which proves to be the target of the currently discussed toxins.

Keywords: TRPV1; centipede toxin; nociception; outer pore domain; pain; scorpion toxin; sea anemone; snake toxin; spider toxin; venom.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Scorpion Venoms / toxicity
  • Sea Anemones / pathogenicity
  • Snake Venoms / toxicity
  • Spider Venoms / toxicity
  • TRPV Cation Channels / drug effects*
  • TRPV Cation Channels / physiology
  • Toxins, Biological / toxicity*


  • Scorpion Venoms
  • Snake Venoms
  • Spider Venoms
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • TRPV1 receptor
  • Toxins, Biological