The thermosensitive potassium channel TREK-1 contributes to coolness-evoked responses of Grueneberg ganglion neurons. uri icon


  • Neurons of the Grueneberg ganglion (GG) residing in the vestibule of the murine nose are activated by cool ambient temperatures. Activation of thermosensory neurons is usually mediated by thermosensitive ion channels of the transient receptor potential (TRP) family. However, there is no evidence for the expression of thermo-TRPs in the GG, suggesting that GG neurons utilize distinct mechanisms for their responsiveness to cool temperatures. In search for proteins that render GG neurons responsive to coolness, we have investigated whether TREK/TRAAK channels may play a role; in heterologous expression systems, these potassium channels have been previously found to close upon exposure to coolness, leading to a membrane depolarization. The results of the present study indicate that the thermosensitive potassium channel TREK-1 is expressed in those GG neurons that are responsive to cool temperatures. Studies analyzing TREK-deficient mice revealed that coolness-evoked responses of GG neurons were clearly attenuated in these animals compared with wild-type conspecifics. These data suggest that TREK-1 channels significantly contribute to the responsiveness of GG neurons to cool temperatures, further supporting the concept that TREK channels serve as thermoreceptors in sensory cells. Moreover, the present findings provide the first evidence of how thermosensory GG neurons are activated by given temperature stimuli in the absence of thermo-TRPs.

publication date

  • January 2014