Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Food & Beverage Analysis
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Why Are Chili Peppers So Hot?

Published: Monday, December 09, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, December 09, 2013
Bookmark and Share
3D structure of heat and pain receptor solved to near-atomic resolution.

Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) ion channels are membrane proteins that play a role in the sensing of environmental and cellular signals. In a recent article in Nature, (Liao et. al.)**, researchers report that they have solved the 3D structure of the TRPV1 ion channel to a near-atomic resolution (3.4 Angstroms) using cryo electron microscopy (cryo-EM) employing a Gatan K2 SummitTM electron counting camera. This marks the first time that the detailed structure of a member of the large and diverse TRP channel family has been solved.

“Ion channels are among the highest potential targets for drug development. Understanding these channels at atomic resolution speeds up the development of powerful therapeutics that modulate the activity of these channels”, says Dr. Christopher Booth, Life Science Product Manager at Gatan. “Until now the 3D structure of ion channels could only be solved using 2D or 3D crystallography, which often required years of painstaking effort to create crystalline samples. This trail blazing work shows that near atomic-resolution structural biology research is now possible without the need for crystallization.”


Shown above are some examples illustrating the remarkable reconstruction quality that can be achieved in single particle cryo-EM using the high contrast, low noise K2 Summit electron counting camera.  The density map on the left allows for the unequivocal tracing of the polypeptide backbone de novo revealing the 3D location of each atom in this protein.

“Our team has been trying to solve this structure using X-ray crystallography for several years, but we were never able to crystallize the TRPV1 proteins to undertake these kinds of experiments.” says David Julius, professor of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

This is the first time we’ve been able to resolve side chains in membrane proteins without crystallization”, says Yifan Cheng, associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF. “It shows that single-particle cryo-EM can now be used to solve small, low symmetry particles at the highest resolution, and that cryo-EM is applicable to some of the most difficult specimens.” 

“This benchmark result is proof that the Gatan K2 Summit electron counting camera is revolutionizing structural biology”, states Dr. Sander Gubbens, Gatan’s President.  “We are immensely proud that our K2 Summit camera is dramatically expanding the field of cryo-EM and enabling truly novel research.”

The K2 Summit is the result of a very successful collaboration between scientists at Gatan, the University of California San Francisco, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, with partial funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Science Foundation through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Major Instrumentation grant.


** Liao M., Cao E., Julius D., Cheng Y., Structure of the TRPV1 ion channel determined by electron cryo-microscopy.  Nature, 504 pp.107-112. doi:10.1038/nature12822.  

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Scientific News
The MaxSignal Colistin ELISA Test Kit from Bioo Scientific
Kit can help prevent the antibiotic apocalypse by keeping last resort drugs out of the food supply.
Kitchen Utensils Can Spread Bacteria Between Foods
In a recent study researchers found that produce that contained bacteria would contaminate other produce items through the continued use of knives or graters—the bacteria would latch on to the utensils commonly found in consumers' homes and spread to the next item.
GMO Food Animals Should be Judged by Product, Not Process
In a world with a burgeoning demand for meat, milk and eggs, regulatory policies around the use of biotechnologies in agriculture need to be based on the safety and attributes of those foods rather than on the methods used to produce them, says a UC Davis animal scientist.
Acetaldehyde and Formaldehyde Content in Foods
Korean researchers have determined the content of the toxic and carcinogenic aldehydes, acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, in a variety of food groups.
Increasing Vitamin D Supplementation
New study from ETH Zurich finds that elderly women should consume more vitamin D than previously recommended during the winter months.
IARC Monographs Evaluate Consumption of Red Meat and Processed Meat
Processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
Nanoparticles in Foods Raise Safety Questions
Nanoparticles can make foods like jawbreaker candies brighter and creamier and keep them fresh longer. But researchers are still in the dark about what the tiny additives do once inside our bodies.
Arsenic Found in Many U.S. Red Wines
A new University of Washington study that tested 65 wines from America’s top four wine-producing states — California, Washington, New York and Oregon — found all but one have arsenic levels that exceed what’s allowed in drinking water.
Viruses Join Fight Against Harmful Bacteria
Engineered viruses could combat human disease and improve food safety.
Plastic for Dinner
Roughly a quarter of the fish sampled from fish markets in California and Indonesia contained man-made debris according to a study from the University of California, Davis, and Hasanuddin University in Indonesia.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos