An ion channel long-suspected to play a key role in sensing cold does, indeed, drive response to low temperatures in mice, according to a paper published online this week in Nature. The researchers found that mice without a functioning receptor called TRPM8 show deficits in their ability to detect cold temperatures. Two papers in this month's Neuron support the findings, reporting cold detection deficiencies in TRPM8-knockout mice."I think things are pretty clear," senior author David Julius of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) told The Scientist. "TRPM8 is the major detector of cold stimuli."Previous work has suggested that different transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels are involved in thermal detection at different temperatures. One of these channels, TRP melastatin 8 (TRPM8), is activated by chemical cooling agents like menthol, as well as by low environmental temperatures. However, some studies have suggested that...

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