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Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 Jun 2024 - 28 Jun 2024

2024 Jun 21

ACS Chem Biol


Optical Control of TRPV1 Channels in vitro with Tethered Photopharmacology.


Howe CL, Icka-Araki D, Viray AEG, Garza S, Frank JA


Transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) is a nonselective cation channel that is important for nociception and inflammatory pain and is activated by a variety of nociceptive stimuli─including lipids such as capsaicin (CAP) and endocannabinoids. TRPV1’s role in physiological systems is often studied by activating it with externally perfused ligands; however, this approach is plagued by poor spatiotemporal resolution. Lipid agonists are insoluble in physiological buffers and can permeate membranes to accumulate nonselectively inside cells, where they can have off-target effects. To increase the spatiotemporal precision with which we can activate lipids on cells and tissues, we previously developed optically cleavable targeted (OCT) ligands, which use protein tags (SNAP-tags) to localize a photocaged ligand on a target cellular membrane. After enrichment, the active ligand is released on a flash of light to activate nearby receptors. In our previous work, we developed an OCT-ligand to control a cannabinoid-sensitive GPCR. Here, we expand the scope of OCT-ligand technology to target TRPV1 ion channels. We synthesize a probe, OCT-CAP, that tethers to membrane-bound SNAP-tags and releases a TRPV1 agonist when triggered by UV-A irradiation. Using Ca imaging and electrophysiology in HEK293T cells expressing TRPV1, we demonstrate that OCT-CAP uncaging activates TRPV1 with superior spatiotemporal precision when compared to standard diffusible ligands or photocages. This study is the first example of an OCT-ligand designed to manipulate an ion-channel target. We anticipate that these tools will find many applications in controlling lipid signaling pathways in various cells and tissues.