Patel KN, Liu Q, Meeker S, Undem BJ, Dong X. PLoS ONE. 2011; 6(5):e20559.
Itch, or pruritus, is an important clinical problem whose molecular basis has yet to be understood. Recent work has begun to identify genes that contribute to detecting itch at the molecular level. Here we show that Pirt, known to play a vital part in sensing pain through modulation of the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channel, is also necessary for proper itch sensation. Pirt(-/-) mice exhibit deficits in cellular and behavioral responses to various itch-inducing compounds, or pruritogens. Pirt contributes to both histaminergic and nonhistaminergic itch and, crucially, is involved in forms of itch that are both TRPV1-dependent and -independent. Our findings demonstrate that the function of Pirt extends beyond nociception via TRPV1 regulation to its role as a critical component in several itch signaling pathways.