Pheromone recognition relies on an amplification cascade that is triggered by pheromone binding to G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR). The first step in translation of GPCR activation by pheromones in the vomeronasal organ and main olfactory epithelium (MOE) into a cellular response is the activation of a transient receptor potential (TRP) family member, TRPC2 [Zufall, F., Ukhanov, K., Lucas, P., Liman, E. R., and Leinders-Zufall, T. (2005). Neurobiology of TRPC2: From gene to behavior. Pflugers Arch. 451, 61-71; Yildirim, E., and Birnbaumer, L. (2007). TRPC2: Molecular biology and functional importance. Handb. Exp. Pharmacol. 53-75]. The members of the canonical (TRPC) family of TRP channels mediate membrane permeability, specifically, Ca2+ influx into the cytoplasm in response to activation of GPCR and tyrosine kinase receptors by hormones, neurotransmitters, and growth factors [Nilius, B. (2007). TRP channels in disease. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1772, 805-812; Venkatachalam, K., and Montell, C. (2007). TRP channels. Annu. Rev. Biochem. 76, 387-417]. Mechanisms of their activation have been the focus of intense interest during the last decade. The data obtained from studies of TRPC2 have resulted in a better understanding of ion channel physiology and led to novel paradigms in modern cell biology [Lucas, P., Ukhanov, K., Leinders-Zufall, T., and Zufall, F. (2003). A diacylglycerol-gated cation channel in vomeronasal neuron dendrites is impaired in TRPC2 mutant mice: Mechanism of pheromone transduction. Neuron 40, 551-561; Stowers, L., Holy, T. E., Meister, M., Dulac, C., and Koentges, G. (2002). Loss of sex discrimination and male-male aggression in mice deficient for TRP2. Science 295, 1493-1500; Leypold, B. G., Yu, C. R., Leinders-Zufall, T., Kim, M. M., Zufall, F., and Axel, R. (2002). Altered sexual and social behaviors in trp2 mutant mice. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99, 6376-6381]. Although TRPC2 activation by pheromones presents one of the most straightforward examples of physiological function of TRPC channels, the molecular aspects of its activation are not well understood (Yildirim, E., and Birnbaumer, L. (2007). TRPC2: Molecular biology and functional importance. Handb. Exp. Pharmacol. 53-75). It is natural to expect that better understanding of TRPC2 activation mechanisms will lead to breakthroughs in understanding ion channel activation mechanisms, as well as applied behavioral pharmacology. The present review is focused on the current knowledge of TRPC2 physiology with a specific focus on TRPC activation mechanisms.
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