2003 Volume 91 Issue 4 Pages 271-276
In both excitable and non-excitable cells, many chemical and physical stimuli elicit continuous Ca2+ influx through yet poorly understood pathways distinct from voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, leading to activation and modulation of various cellular functions. The molecular entities of these pathways have long been enigmatic, but important clues have been obtained from recent investigations on the Drosophila transient receptor potential (TRP) protein and its mammalian homologues. TRP proteins function as non-voltage-gated Ca2+ channels that are constitutively active or gated by a multitude of stimuli including light, pheromones, lipids, temperature, acid, osmolarity, and oxidative stress; and thus they may play divergent roles in cell pathophysiology. This short paper briefly overviews the current knowledge about these channels with a main focus on their possible linkage with in vivo function.