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Evolution of acid nociception: ion channels and receptors for detecting acid.

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St John Smith, Ewan 


Nociceptors, i.e. sensory neurons tuned to detect noxious stimuli, are found in numerous phyla of the Animalia kingdom and are often polymodal, responding to a variety of stimuli, e.g. heat, cold, pressure and chemicals, such as acid. Owing to the ability of protons to have a profound effect on ionic homeostasis and damage macromolecular structures, it is no wonder that the ability to detect acid is conserved across many species. To detect changes in pH, nociceptors are equipped with an assortment of different acid sensors, some of which can detect mild changes in pH, such as the acid-sensing ion channels, proton-sensing G protein-coupled receptors and several two-pore potassium channels, whereas others, such as the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 ion channel, require larger shifts in pH. This review will discuss the evolution of acid sensation and the different mechanisms by which nociceptors can detect acid. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue 'Evolution of mechanisms and behaviour important for pain'.



TRP channel, acid, acid-sensing ion channel, nociception, proton-sensing GPCR, two-pore potassium channel, Acid Sensing Ion Channels, Animals, Biological Evolution, Humans, Nociception, Nociceptors, Pain

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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci

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The Royal Society


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Arthritis Research UK (11600/21973)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/M011194/1)
BBSRC (1943916)
Versus Arthritis (RG21973) University of Cambridge BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme (BB/M011194/1)