Editors' ChoicePhysiology

Receptor in the brain controls breathing

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Sci. Signal.  16 Jun 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 381, pp. ec165
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aac7823

Control of breathing in mammals depends primarily not on sensing oxygen, but rather on detecting concentrations of carbon dioxide in the blood. Failure of this system can cause potentially deadly sleep apneas. Taking a hint from insects, which use a G protein–coupled receptor (GPCR) to sense carbon dioxide, Kumar et al. demonstrate that the GPCR GPR4 is essential to control breathing in mice. GPR4 senses protons generated by the formation of carbonic acid in the blood and works with a pH-sensitive potassium channel called TASK-2 in a set of brain cells that control breathing.

N. N. Kumar, A. Velic, J. Soliz, Y. Shi, K. Li, S. Wang, J. L. Weaver, J. Sen, S. B. G. Abbott, R. M. Lazarenko, M.-G. Ludwig, E. Perez-Reyes, N. Mohebbi, C. Bettoni, M. Gassmann, T. Suply, K. Seuwen, P. G. Guyenet, C. A. Wagner, D. A. Bayliss, Regulation of breathing by CO2 requires the proton-activated receptor GPR4 in retrotrapezoid nucleus neurons. Science 348, 1255–1260 (2015). [Abstract] [Full Text]