Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Some Like It Hot! Structure Of Receptor For Hot Chili Pepper And Pain Revealed

Date:
May 22, 2008
Source:
Baylor College of Medicine
Summary:
You can now not only feel the spicy kick of a jalapeno pepper, you can also see it in full 3-D, thanks to researchers at Baylor College of Medicine. Using sophisticated equipment, the researchers generated the first three dimensional view of the protein that allows you to sense the heat of a hot pepper.

We sense the "fire" of hot chiles, such as the scotch bonnet peppers (Capsicum chinense) pictured here, through the effects of their active ingredient, capsaicin, on the protein, TRPV1. The protein structure, determined by electron microscopy, is shown at 4 million times its actual size. It responds to heat and chemical irritants by opening channels in nerve cell membranes.
Credit: Photographs courtesy of Jennifer Katrib

You can now not only feel the spicy kick of a jalapeno pepper, you can also see it in full 3D, thanks to researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Using sophisticated equipment, the research team led by Dr Theodore G. Wensel, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at BCM, generated the first three dimensional view of the protein that allows you to sense the heat of a hot pepper.

"This protein, known as TRPV1, not only senses spicy foods, but also makes it possible to feel real heat and the pain and inflammation related to other medical conditions," said Wensel, senior author on the study. "This method of viewing the protein now gives us the chance to clearly see the functional relationship between outside stimuli and the nerve cell."

The outside stimulus used in this study was the heat of a chili pepper. It has been known for years that the burning sensation results from the action of a chemical known as capsaicin on TRPV1 found on the nerve cell membrane. TRPV1 is an ion channel, a tiny pore on the cell membrane that allows chemicals such as calcium to flux in and out.

"Any time you feel a burn or pain sensation, it is mediated by a TRPV1 channel. Different levels of heat are mediated by different TRP channels," said Dr. Vera Moiseenkova-Bell, a postdoctoral associate in Wensel's laboratory at BCM and first author of the study. "They are all related but each is regulated in a different manner."

Wensel said the three-dimensional image of TRPV1 revealed surprising information about its structure. It is made up of a pore domain embedded in the cell membrane, and a "hanging basket" of regulatory domains that extend into the interior of the cell.

"It's an unusual thing. There is a whole hollow 'basket' area but we don't know what's that's for," Wensel said. "Now the search is on to understand how the 'basket' area regulates the channel."

Isolating TRPV1 gives researchers an idea of how other channels are structured as well.

"Visualization of TRPV1 gives us insight on other TRP channels since they are structurally similar," said Moiseenkova-Bell. "Pharmaceutical companies target these TRP channels to make sure the drug binds properly. With this first structure we can start to build models of binding sites and hopefully in the future design more effective pharmaceuticals for a wide range of medical conditions."

Studying these channels is nothing new. In the past, scientists could measure the activity in the cells but it was unclear what each channel was responding to. Determining which proteins interacted with TRPV1, however, required Wensel's lab to create a purified model.

The protein had to be removed from cells, purified, and reconstituted in a synthetic membrane so researchers could control channel activity.

"Since calcium is involved in cell signaling, following the calcium movement confirmed the protein is active," said Wensel. "We are the first group to purify a TRPV1 channel and control what goes in and out when the channel opens."

The report appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Others who took part in this work are Dr. Lia Stanicu, of Purdue University, Dr. Irina Serysheva, adjunct associate professor of biochemistry at BCM, and BCM graduate student, Ben J. Tobe.

Funding for this work came from the National Institutes of Health.

 


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Baylor College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Baylor College of Medicine. "Some Like It Hot! Structure Of Receptor For Hot Chili Pepper And Pain Revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080520090524.htm>.
Baylor College of Medicine. (2008, May 22). Some Like It Hot! Structure Of Receptor For Hot Chili Pepper And Pain Revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080520090524.htm
Baylor College of Medicine. "Some Like It Hot! Structure Of Receptor For Hot Chili Pepper And Pain Revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080520090524.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) — Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) — Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
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