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The transient receptor potential (TRP) protein superfamily consists of a diverse group of cation channels that bear structural similarities to Drosophila TRP. TRP channels play important roles in nonexcitable cells; however, an emerging theme is that many TRP-related proteins are expressed predominantly in the nervous system and function in sensory physiology. The TRP superfamily is divided into seven subfamilies, the first of which is composed of the "classical" TRPs" (TRPC subfamily). Some TRPCs may be store-operated channels, whereas others appear to be activated by production of diacylglycerol or regulated through an exocytotic mechanism. Many members of a second subfamily (TRPV) function in sensory physiology and respond to heat, changes in osmolarity, odorants, and mechanical stimuli. Two members of the TRPM family function in sensory perception and three TRPM proteins are chanzymes, which contain C-terminal enzyme domains. The fourth and fifth subfamilies, TRPN and TRPA, include proteins with many ankyrin repeats. TRPN proteins function in mechanotransduction, whereas TRPA1 is activated by noxious cold and is also required for the auditory response. In addition to these five closely related TRP subfamilies, which comprise the Group 1 TRPs, members of the two Group 2 TRP subfamilies, TRPP and TRPML, are distantly related to the group 1 TRPs. Mutations in the founding members of these latter subfamilies are responsible for human diseases. Each of the TRP subfamilies are represented by members in worms and flies, providing the potential for using genetic approaches to characterize the normal functions and activation mechanisms of these channels.