Journal of General Physiology explores mysteries of TRP channels in latest Perspectives series

March 25, 2009

Despite the large body of literature on transient receptor potential (TRP) channels--ion channels that are directly involved in vision, taste, hearing, touch, olfaction, and other senses--very little is known about their biophysics and protein structure, or the mechanisms that control their gating processes.

In its latest Perspectives in General Physiology series (http://jgp.rupress.org/current.shtml), the Journal of General Physiology (JGP) utilizes the contributions of leading experts to provide a critical overview of current research about TRP channel structure, and to point out areas in need of further exploration. The series gives special attention to the TRPA1 channel, which has been assigned many different functions.

In his introduction to the series, guest editor Ramon Lattore (Universidad de Valparaiso) provides an historical context for the TRP channel story, which dates back to the 1960s and now includes more than 85 known channels.

Series contributors include Rachelle Gaudet (Harvard University), Vera Moiseenkova-Bell and Theodore Wensel (Baylor College of Medicine), who write about the three-dimensional structure of TRP channels.

According to Latorre, knowing "how these channels are assembled from a structural point of view is critical to understand the molecular workings of these proteins ... and will allow for the development of intelligent strategies for the design of [targeted drugs]."

Other Perspectives contributors include Ombretta Caspani and Paul A. Heppenstall (EMBL Monterotondo and Universitätsmedizin Berlin), Kelvin Y. Kwan and David P. Corey (Harvard University), and Sangsu Bang and Sun Wook Hwang (Korea University Graduate School of Medicine), who share their views about the questions concerning the modulation of the functional properties of the TRPA1 channel and, in particular, that regarding its temperature sensitivity.
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The purpose of the Perspectives in General Physiology series is to provide an ongoing forum where scientific uncertainties or controversies can be discussed in an authoritative, yet open, manner. The comments and opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the JGP editors or editorial advisory board.

About the Journal of General Physiology

Founded in 1917, the Journal of General Physiology (JGP) is published by the Rockefeller University Press. All editorial decisions on manuscripts submitted are made by active scientists. JGP content is posted to PubMed Central, where it is available to the public for free six months after publication. Authors retain copyright of their published works and third parties may reuse the content for non-commercial purposes under a creative commons license. For more information, please visit www.jgp.org or visit the JGP Press Release Archive at http://www.eurekalert.org/jrnls/rupress.

Latorre, R. 2009. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.200910199.

Rockefeller University Press

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