N-glycosylation determines ionic permeability and desensitization of the TRPV1 capsaicin receptor

Nicholas A. Veldhuis, Michael J. Lew, Fe C. Abogadie, Daniel P. Poole, Ernest A. Jennings, Jason J. Ivanusic, Helge Eilers, Nigel W. Bunnett, Peter McIntyre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The balance of glycosylation and deglycosylation of ion channels can markedly influence their function and regulation. However, the functional importance of glycosylation of the TRPV1 receptor, a key sensor of pain-sensing nerves, is not well understood, and whether TRPV1 is glycosylated in neurons is unclear. We report that TRPV1 is N-glycosylated and that N-glycosylation is a major determinant of capsaicin-evoked desensitization and ionic permeability. Both N-glycosylated and unglycosylated TRPV1 was detected in extracts of peripheral sensory nerves by Western blotting. TRPV1 expressed in HEK-293 cells exhibited various degrees of glycosylation. A mutant of asparagine 604 (N604T) was not glycosylated but did not alter plasma membrane expression of TRPV1. Capsaicin-evoked increases in intracellular calcium ([Ca2+] i) were sustained in wild-type TRPV1 HEK-293 cells but were rapidly desensitized in N604T TRPV1 cells. There was marked cell-to-cell variability in capsaicin responses and desensitization between individual cells expressing wild-type TRPV1 but highly uniform responses in cells expressing N604T TRPV1, consistent with variable levels of glycosylation of the wild-type channel. These differences were also apparent when wild-type or N604T TRPV1-GFP fusion proteins were expressed in neurons from trpv1-/- mice. Capsaicin evoked a marked, concentration dependent increase in uptake of the large cationic dye YO-PRO-1 in cells expressing wild-type TRPV1, indicative of loss of ion selectivity, that was completely absent in cells expressing N604T TRPV1. Thus, TRPV1 is variablyN-glycosylated and glycosylation is a key determinant of capsaicin regulation of TRPV1 desensitization and permeability. Our findings suggest that physiological or pathological alterations in TRPV1 glycosylation would affect TRPV1 function and pain transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21765-21772
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jun 22 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'N-glycosylation determines ionic permeability and desensitization of the TRPV1 capsaicin receptor'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this