The seminal discoveries by this year’s Nobel Laureates have explained how heat, cold and touch can initiate signals in our nervous system. Professors David Julius and Ardem Petapoutian won the 2021 prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of TRPV1, TRPM8 and Piezo ion channels. These breakthrough discoveries launched intense research activities focused on understanding their functions in a variety of physiological processes. At clinical level that discovery helped redesigning strategy for pain management.
This is a Nobel Prize that once again rewards basic research, essential in the understanding of biophysical phenomena. In recent years researchers at NEST have thoroughly investigated TRPV1.
At the NEST laboratory, Barbara Storti studied the TRPV1 receptor during her PhD thesis at Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) and her post doctorate at the Istituto Nanoscienze (CnrNANO). This work has made a substantial contribution to the understanding of how TRPV1 assembled on the cell membrane of living cells at rest and under drug stimulation. These studies were carried out under the supervision of Fabio Beltram (SNS) and Ranieri Bizzarri (CnrNANO) with the collaboration of Carmine di Rienzo and Francesco Cardarelli (SNS).
The studies on TRPV1 carried out at NEST targeted the understanding of receptor regulation at membrane level. Researchers used a combination of different fluorescence-based nanoimaging techniques to demonstrate the existence of a feedback cycle between the stimulation of the receptor and cytoskeleton remodeling. The study also highlighted how caveolar endocytosis is able to deactivate the receptor activity. This knowledge may be used to optimize drug treatment in pain therapy.
Intact Microtubules Preserve Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) Functionality through Receptor Binding, Journal of Biological Chemistry (2012)
Unveiling TRPV1 Spatio-Temporal Organization in Live Cell Membranes, PLOS ONE (2015)