Environmental temperature is thought to be directly sensed by neurons through their projections in the skin. A subset of the mammalian transient receptor potential (TRP) family of ion channels has been implicated in this process. These "thermoTRPs" are activated at distinct temperature thresholds and are typically expressed, in sensory neurons. TRPV3 is activated by heat (>33°C) and, unlike most thermoTRPs, is expressed in mouse keratinocytes. We found that TRPV3 null mice have strong deficits in responses to innocuous and noxious heat but not in other sensory modalities; hence, TRPV3 has a specific role in thermosensation. The natural compound camphor, which modulates sensations of warmth in humans, proved to be a specific activator of TRPV3. Camphor activated cultured primary keratinocytes but not sensory neurons, and this activity was abolished in TRPV3 null mice. Therefore, heat-activated receptors in keratinocytes are important for mammalian thermosensation.
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