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Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2007;(179):53-75.

TRPC2: molecular biology and functional importance.

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  • 1Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, 111 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


TRPC (canonical transient receptor potential) channels are the closest mammalian homologs of Drosophila TRP and TRP-like channels. TRPCs are rather nonselective Ca2+ permeable cation channels and affect cell functions through their ability to mediate Ca2+ entry into cells and their action to collapse the plasma membrane potentials. In neurons the latter function leads to action potentials. The mammalian genome codes for seven TRPCs of which TRPC2 is the largest with the most restricted pattern of expression and has several alternatively spliced variants. Expressed in model cells, TRPC2 mediates both receptor- and store depletion-triggered Ca2+ entry. TRPC2 is unique among TRPCs in that its complete gene has been lost from the Old World monkey and human genomes, in which its remnants constitute a pseudogene. Physiological roles for TRPC2 have been studied in mature sperm and the vomeronasal sensory system. In sperm, TRPC2 is activated by the sperm's interaction with the oocyte's zona pellucida, leading to entry of Ca2+ and activation of the acrosome reaction. In the vomeronasal sensory organ (VNO), TRPC2 was found to constitute the transduction channel activated through signaling cascade initiated by the interaction of pheromones with V1R and V2R G protein-coupled receptors on the dendrites of the sensory neurons. V1Rs and V2Rs, the latter working in conjunction with class I MHC molecules, activate G(i)- and G(o)-type G proteins which in turn trigger activation of TRPC2, initiating an axon potential that travels to the axonal terminals. The signal is then projected to the glomeruli of the auxiliary olfactory bulb from where it is carried first to the amygdala and then to higher cortical cognition centers. Immunocytochemistry and gene deletion studies have shown that (1) the V2R-G(o)-MHCIb-beta2m pathway mediates male aggressive behavior in response to pheromones; (2) the V1R-G(i2) pathway mediates mating partner recognition, and (3) these differences have an anatomical correlate in that these functional components are located in anatomically distinct compartments of the VNO. Interestingly, these anatomically segregated signaling pathways use a common transduction channel, TRPC2.

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