Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

"Warm To The Touch" Gene Found

Date:
May 20, 2002
Source:
Scripps Research Institute
Summary:
A group of researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) have identified and cloned the first-known gene that makes skin cells able to sense warm temperatures.

A group of researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) have identified and cloned the first-known gene that makes skin cells able to sense warm temperatures.

In an article appearing in the journal Science, a group led by Ardem Patapoutian of TSRI and Stuart Bevan of Novartis describes the protein the gene makes, a type of transient receptor potential (TRP) channel called "TRPV3." This membrane protein opens when it senses a certain temperature and allows ions to pass through and cause an electrical potential that signals the brain.

"This protein may be an important target for drugs," says Patapoutian, "because, like other TRP channels, it may be involved in inflammation and pain-mediation."

Significantly, TRPV3 is the first temperature-sensing molecule identified that becomes activated at warm and hot temperatures, 33 C (91.5 F) and above. And it is the first temperature-sensing channel found in keratinocytes, which are the major type of cell in the skin.

Previously, scientists had known that humans and other vertebrate animals use specialized neurons located in the spinal column that are connected to the skin and organs through long axons to sense temperature, pressure, and other physical stimuli. Expressed on these axons are the same sort of TRP channels as the one in the current study, and in the last few years scientists have identified them as the "molecular thermometers" that detect hot and cold temperatures in the skin and relay that information back to the brain.

Earlier this year, the TSRI and GNF group identified and cloned the gene—called TRPM8— that codes for the first-known signaling molecule that helps the body sense cold temperatures and the cooling compound, menthol. That led them in part to the current molecule.

They knew that TRPM8 detects cold. And another set of channels in the spinal cord were known to detect noxious heat. Patapoutian and his team reasoned that one or more molecules like TRPV3 must be able to detect warm temperatures.

"We have shown for the first time that skin cells are capable of detecting heat through molecules similar to those in heat-sensing neurons," says Patapoutian.

Around 33 C, TRPV3 becomes activated, opens, and allows an influx of positively-charged ions into the cell—an electrical signal that presumably alerts the brain of the temperature.

It is not known how this signal is communicated to the brain, since keratinocytes, unlike neurons, have no direct link with the central nervous system. Keratinocytes do, however, touch nerve fibers, and it may be through these contacts that the temperatures are communicated—something that the team is trying to verify.

The channel's similarity to another temperature-sensing ion channel called VR1 suggests that TRPV3 may be a target for pain therapeutics. VR1 is involved in inflammation and in communicating pain to the brain, and several compounds that block its action are currently under investigation for chronic pain indications.

Similarly, compounds that block TRPV3's action may also be useful for fighting chronic pain.

The research article "A novel heat-sensitive TRP channel expressed in keratinocytes" is authored by Andrea M. Peier, Alison J. Reeve, David A. Andersson, Aziz Moqrich, Taryn J. Earley, Anne C. Hergarden, Gina M. Story, Sian Colley, John B. Hogenesch, Peter McIntyre, Stuart Bevan, and Ardem Patapoutian and appears in the online version of Science on May 16, 2002.

The research was funded by a grant to TSRI from Novartis.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Scripps Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Scripps Research Institute. ""Warm To The Touch" Gene Found." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020520075300.htm>.
Scripps Research Institute. (2002, May 20). "Warm To The Touch" Gene Found. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020520075300.htm
Scripps Research Institute. ""Warm To The Touch" Gene Found." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020520075300.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins