The transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) ion channel is a prototypical molecular sensor for noxious heat in mammals. Its role in sustained heat response remains poorly understood, because rapid heat-induced desensitization (Dh) follows tightly heat-induced activation (Ah). To understand the physiological role and structural basis of Dh, we carried out a comparative study of TRPV1 channels in mouse (mV1) and those in platypus (pV1), which naturally lacks Dh. Here we show that a temperature-sensitive interaction between the N- and C-terminal domains of mV1 but not pV1 drives a conformational rearrangement in the pore leading to Dh. We further show that knock-in mice expressing pV1 sensed heat normally but suffered scald damages in a hot environment. Our findings suggest that Dh evolved late during evolution as a protective mechanism and a delicate balance between Ah and Dh is crucial for mammals to sense and respond to noxious heat.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)