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'Warm to the touch' gene found

t. Patapoutian and his team reasoned that one or more molecules like TRPV3 must be able to detect warm temperatures.

"We have shown for the first time that skin cells are capable of detecting heat through molecules similar to those in heat-sensing neurons," says Patapoutian.

Around 33 C, TRPV3 becomes activated, opens, and allows an influx of positively-charged ions into the cellan electrical signal that presumably alerts the brain of the temperature.

It is not known how this signal is communicated to the brain, since keratinocytes, unlike neurons, have no direct link with the central nervous system. Keratinocytes do, however, touch nerve fibers, and it may be through these contacts that the temperatures are communicatedsomething that the team is trying to verify.

The channel's similarity to another temperature-sensing ion channel called VR1 suggests that TRPV3 may be a target for pain therapeutics. VR1 is involved in inflammation and in communicating pain to the brain, and several compounds that block its action are currently under investigation for chronic pain indications.

Similarly, compounds that block TRPV3's action may also be useful for fighting chronic pain.


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Contact: Robin B. Clark
rclark@scripps.edu
858-784-8134
Scripps Research Institute
16-May-2002


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