Kim S*, Barry DM*, Liu XY*, Yin S, Munanairi A, Meng QT, Cheng W, Mo P, Wan L, Liu SB, Ratnayake K, Zhao ZQ, Gautam N, Zheng J,Karunarathne WK, Chen ZF.Sci Signal. 2016 Jul 19;9(437) PMID: 27436359. (*These authors contributed equally to this work.)
The transient receptor potential channels (TRPs) respond to chemical irritants and temperature. TRPV1 responds to the itch-inducing endogenous signal histamine, and TRPA1 responds to the itch-inducing chemical chloroquine. We showed that, in sensory neurons, TRPV4 is important for both chloroquine- and histamine-induced itch and that TRPV1 has a role in chloroquine-induced itch. Chloroquine-induced scratching was reduced in mice in which TRPV1 was knocked down or pharmacologically inhibited. Both TRPV4 and TRPV1 were present in some sensory neurons. Pharmacological blockade of either TRPV4 or TRPV1 significantly attenuated the Ca(2+) response of sensory neurons exposed to histamine or chloroquine. Knockout of Trpv1 impaired Ca(2+) responses and reduced scratching behavior evoked by a TRPV4 agonist, whereas knockout ofTrpv4 did not alter TRPV1-mediated capsaicin responses. Electrophysiological analysis of human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells coexpressing TRPV4 and TRPV1 revealed that the presence of both channels enhanced the activation kinetics of TRPV4 but not of TRPV1. Biochemical and biophysical studies suggested a close proximity between TRPV4 and TRPV1 in dorsal root ganglion neurons and in cultured cells. Thus, our studies identified TRPV4 as a channel that contributes to both histamine- and chloroquine-induced itch and indicated that the function of TRPV4 in itch signaling involves TRPV1-mediated facilitation. TRP facilitation through the formation of heteromeric complexes could be a prevalent mechanism by which the vast array of somatosensory information is encoded in sensory neurons.