TRPV1, receptor for pain and spicy foods.

The research team led by Dr Theodore G. Wensel, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Baylor college of medicine at Houston, using sophisticated equipment, generated the first three dimensional view of the protein that allows one in sensing the hot pepper's heat. TRPV1, the protein makes it possible to feel the real heat and the pain and inflammation related to other medical conditions, and also helps in sensing the spicy foods.This finding helps us in understanding the functional relationship between the nerve cell and the outside stimuli, the heat of chilli powder.

TRPV1 is an ion channel, a tiny pore on the cell membrane that allows chemicals such as calcium to flux in and out. So the feel and pain of the burn is mediated by a TRPV1 channel. Different levels of heat are mediated by different TRP channels. In the past, scientists could measure the activity in the cells but it was unclear what each channel was responding to. Determining which proteins interacted with TRPV1, however, required Wensel's lab to create a purified model. This group was the first to purify a TRPV1 channel and control what goes in and out when the channel opens. The report appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Via BCM.

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