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J Physiol. 2007 Jan 1;578(Pt 1):9-24. Epub 2006 Sep 21.

TRP channels and lipids: from Drosophila to mammalian physiology.

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  • 1Department of Physiology Development and Neuroscience, Cambridge University, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DY, UK.


The transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channel family was the last major ion channel family to be discovered. The prototypical member (dTRP) was identified by a forward genetic approach in Drosophila, where it represents the transduction channel in the photoreceptors, activated downstream of a Gq-coupled PLC. In the meantime 29 vertebrate TRP isoforms are recognized, distributed amongst seven subfamilies (TRPC, TRPV, TRPM, TRPML, TRPP, TRPA, TRPN). They subserve a wide range of functions throughout the body, most notably, though by no means exclusively, in sensory transduction and in vascular smooth muscle. However, their precise physiological roles and mechanism of activation and regulation are still only gradually being revealed. Most TRP channels are subject to multiple modes of regulation, but a common theme amongst the TRPC/V/M subfamilies is their regulation by lipid messengers. Genetic evidence supports an excitatory role of diacylglycerol (DAG) for the dTRP's, although curiously only DAG metabolites (PUFAs) have been found to activate the Drosophila channels. TRPC2,3,6 and 7 are widely accepted as DAG-activated channels, although TRPC3 can also be regulated via a store-operated mechanism. More recently PIP2 has been shown to be required for activity of TRPV5, TRPM4,5,7 and 8, whilst it may inhibit TRPV1 and the dTRPs. Although compelling evidence for a direct interaction of DAG with the TRPC channels is lacking, mutagenesis studies have identified putative PIP2-interacting domains in the C-termini of several TRPV and TRPM channels.

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