Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels play critical roles in cell signaling by coupling various environmental factors to changes in membrane potential that modulate calcium infux. TRP channels are typically activated in a polymodal manner, thus integrating multiple stimuli. Although much progress has been made, the underlying mechanisms of TRP channel activation are largely unknown. The TRPM8 cation channel has been extensively investigated as a major neuronal cold sensor but is also activated by voltage, calcium store depletion, and some lipids as well as by compounds that produce cooling sensations, such as menthol or icilin. Several models of TRPM8 activation have been proposed to explain the interaction between these diverse stimuli. However, a kinetic scheme is not yet available that can describe the detailed single-channel kinetics to gain further insight into the underlying gating mechanism. To work toward this goal, we investigated voltage-dependent single-channel gating in cellattached patches at two different temperatures (20 and 30°C) using HEK293 cells stably expressing TRPM8. Both membrane depolarization and cooling increased channel open probability (Po) mainly by decreasing the duration of closed intervals, with a smaller increase in the duration of open intervals. Maximum likelihood analysis of dwell times at both temperatures indicated gating in a minimum of fve closed and two open states, and global ftting over a wide range of voltages identifed a seven-state model that described the voltage dependence of Po, the singlechannel kinetics, and the response of whole-cell currents to voltage ramps and steps. The major action of depolarization and cooling was to accelerate forward transitions between the same two sets of adjacent closed states. The seven-state model provides a general mechanism to account for TRPM8 activation by membrane depolarization at two temperatures and can serve as a starting point for further investigations of multimodal TRP activation.
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