The pore loop domain of TRPV1 is required for its activation by the volatile anesthetics chloroform and isoflurane

Corinna Kimball, Jialie Luo, Shijin Yin, Hongzhen Hu, Ajay Dhaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The environmental irritant chloroform, a naturally occurring small volatile organohalogen, briefly became the world's most popular volatile general anesthetic (VGA) before being abandoned because of its low therapeutic index. When chloroform comes in contact with skin or is ingested, it causes a painful burning sensation. The molecular basis for the pain associated with chloroform remains unknown. In this study, we assessed the role of transient receptor potential (TRP) channel family members in mediating chloroform activation and the molecular determinants of VGA activation of TRPV1. We identified the subpopulation of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons that are activated by chloroform. Additionally, we transiently expressed wild-type or specifically mutated TRP channels in human embryonic kidney cells and used calcium imaging or whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology to assess the effects of chloroform or the VGA isoflurane on TRP channel activation. The results revealed that chloroform activates DRG neurons via TRPV1 activation. Furthermore, chloroform activates TRPV1, and it also activates TRPM8 and functions as a potent inhibitor of the noxious chemical receptor TRPA1. The results also indicate that residues in the outer pore region of TRPV1 previously thought to be required for either proton or heat activation of the channel are also required for activation by chloroform and isoflurane. In addition to identifying the molecular basis of DRG neuron activation by chloroform and the opposing effects chloroform has on different TRP channel family members, the findings of this study provide novel insights into the structural basis for the activation of TRPV1 by VGAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


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