Evidence that the cold- and menthol-sensing functions of the human TRPM8 channel evolved separately

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Sci Adv. 2024 Jun 21;10(25):eadm9228. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.adm9228. Epub 2024 Jun 21.

ABSTRACT

Transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) is a temperature- and menthol-sensitive ion channel that contributes to diverse physiological roles, including cold sensing and pain perception. Clinical trials targeting TRPM8 have faced repeated setbacks predominantly due to the knowledge gap in unraveling the molecular underpinnings governing polymodal activation. A better understanding of the molecular foundations between the TRPM8 activation modes may aid the development of mode-specific, thermal-neutral therapies. Ancestral sequence reconstruction was used to explore the origins of TRPM8 activation modes. By resurrecting key TRPM8 nodes along the human evolutionary trajectory, we gained valuable insights into the trafficking, stability, and function of these ancestral forms. Notably, this approach unveiled the differential emergence of cold and menthol sensitivity over evolutionary time, providing a fresh perspective on complex polymodal behavior. These studies provide a paradigm for understanding polymodal behavior in TRPM8 and other proteins with the potential to enhance our understanding of sensory receptor biology and pave the way for innovative therapeutic interventions.

PMID:38905339 | DOI:10.1126/sciadv.adm9228