Editors' ChoiceReceptors

Detecting a Balmy Day

Science's STKE  18 Jun 2002:
Vol. 2002, Issue 137, pp. tw214
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2002.137.tw214

Researchers have identified the receptor that senses cold temperatures (also triggered by menthol, accounting for menthol's cooling sensation) and hot temperatures (also activated by capsaicin, the "heat" in chili peppers). Both are members of a family of ion channels called transient receptor potential (TRP) channels. Peier et al. now identify another family member, TRPV3, as a "warm" receptor. This cation-selective, outwardly rectifying channel is activated by temperatures between 33° and 42°C and is expressed in the keratinocytes and hair follicles of skin but not in neurons. Although it is not yet known how warm skin cells convey their response to temperature to the nervous system, the identification of this receptor accounts for our ability to discern pleasantly warm temperatures.

A. M. Peier, A. J. Reeve, D. A. Andersson, A. Moqrich, T. J. Earley, A. C. Hergarden, G. M. Story, S. Colley, J. B. Hogenesch, P. McIntyre, S. Bevan, A. Patapoutian, A heat-sensitive TRP channel expressed in keratinocytes. Science 296, 2046-2049 (2002). [Abstract] [Full Text]