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TRPs in our senses.

Nils Damann, Thomas Voets, Bernd Nilius

Curr. Biol., 2008 Sep 23 , 18, R880-9

In the last decade, studies of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, a superfamily of cation-conducting membrane proteins, have significantly extended our knowledge about the molecular basis of sensory perception in animals. Due to their distinct activation mechanisms and biophysical properties, TRP channels are highly suited to function in receptor cells, either as receptors for environmental or endogenous stimuli or as molecular players in signal transduction cascades downstream of metabotropic receptors. As such, TRP channels play a crucial role in many mammalian senses, including touch, taste and smell. Starting with a brief survey of sensory TRP channels in invertebrate model systems, this review covers the current state of research on TRP channel function in the classical mammalian senses and summarizes how modulation of TRP channels can tune our sensations.