Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How animals sense potentially harmful acids

Date:
May 23, 2011
Source:
Rockefeller University Press
Summary:
All animals face the challenge of deciding which chemicals in the environment are useful and which are harmful. A new study greatly improves our understanding of how animals sense an important class of potentially harmful chemicals: weak acids.

All animals face the challenge of deciding which chemicals in the environment are useful and which are harmful. A new study greatly improves our understanding of how animals sense an important class of potentially harmful chemicals: weak acids. The study appears online on May 16 in the Journal of General Physiology.

Weak acids like acetic acid (vinegar) and propionic acid (present in fermented foods like Swiss cheese) are shunned by many animals, and with good reason. Many organic acids in the environment can have widespread detrimental effects. Humans ingest these substances despite the fact that they actually elicit "irritating" sensations, a physiological response that may have been vital for our ancestors' survival.

So what are the molecular sensors and mechanisms involved when animals detect these substances? Although researchers have identified sensors for many harmful chemicals, the mechanisms involved in the detection of weak acids have been a mystery. Now, University of Southern California researcher Emily Liman and colleagues identify the sensor as none other than the ion channel TRPA1. The authors show that TRPA1 responds to weak acids when they acidify the cytoplasm within the cell. Such cytoplasmic acidification can have very negative consequences -- even triggering cell death -- which explains why this process raises such alarm bells in animals.

Researchers have been surprised in recent years to discover how many different types of noxious stimuli can be sensed by TRPA1, explains Brandeis University's Paul Garrity in a Commentary accompanying the study. With this latest research, weak acids can be added to that growing list.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Garrity, P.A. Weakly acidic, but strongly irritating: TRPA1 and the activation of nociceptors by cytoplasmic acidification. J. Gen. Physiol., 2011 DOI: 10.1085/jgp.201110657
  2. Yuanyuan Y. Wang, Rui B. Chang, Sallie D. Allgood, Wayne L. Silver and Emily R. Liman. A TRPA1-dependent mechanism for the pungent sensation of weak acids. J. Gen. Physiol., 2011 DOI: 10.1085/jgp.201110615

Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University Press. "How animals sense potentially harmful acids." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516121415.htm>.
Rockefeller University Press. (2011, May 23). How animals sense potentially harmful acids. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516121415.htm
Rockefeller University Press. "How animals sense potentially harmful acids." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516121415.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
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
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
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