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Jie Zheng and his postdoc Fan Yang, published a new manuscript reporting intrinsic temperature sensitivity in voltage gated K+ channels, including the Shaker channel.  Physiologically, changes in temperature are typically detected by TRP channels.  For example, hot temperatures open TRPV1 channels (as does capsaicin, the active ingredient of chili peppers) and cold temperatures open TRPM8 channels (as does menthol).  The ability to detect temperature changes was previously thought to be a unique capability of TRP channels.  Moreover, it was believed that these temperature-sensing channels had a discrete sensor to a subdomain of the channel, similar to a Ca2+ binding site.  Here, Yang and Zheng demonstrate channels other than TRPs exhibit temperature sensitivity under certain circumstances including decoupling of the voltage sensor from the activation gate.  These data are consistent with the hypothesis that TRP channels may not contain a dedicated and discrete temperature sensor:

Yang & Zheng

Anne Carlson