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 April 20, 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 April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 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
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
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

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