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Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2014;223:917-33. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-05161-1_8.

TRPs in olfaction.

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Department of Physiology and Center for Integrative Physiology and Molecular Medicine, University of Saarland School of Medicine, 66424, Homburg, Germany,


The mammalian olfactory system has become an excellent model system to understand the function of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels within their native cellular and circuit environment. The discovery that the canonical TRP channel TRPC2 is highly expressed in sensory neurons of the vomeronasal organ (VNO) has led to major advances in our understanding of the cellular and molecular processes underlying signal transduction of pheromones and other molecular cues that play an essential role in the control of instinctive decisions and innate social behaviors. TRPC2 knockout mice provide a striking example that the loss of function of a single gene can cause severe alterations in a variety of social interactions including the display of aggression, social dominance, and sexual behaviors. There is mounting evidence that TRPC2 is not the only TRP channel expressed in cells of the olfactory system but that other TRP channel subtypes such as TRPC1, TRPC4, TRPC6, TRPM4, and TRPM5 could also play important functional roles in mammalian olfaction. Here, I review such findings and discuss future areas for investigation.

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