My students are getting their first take-home exam in neurobiology tomorrow, and I’m using this entry to give them a convenient link to a paper they’re expected to analyze. The rest of you people can just ignore this.
1. We’ve discussed the ionic basis of the action potential and had an overview of channel properties. I’d like you to read the following paper from a recent issue of Nature, which neatly combines several subjects we’ve discussed:
Binshtok AM, Bean BP, Woolf CJ (2007) Inhibition of nociceptors by TRPV1-mediated entry of impermeant sodium channel blockers. Nature 449, 607-610.
There is also a News and Views summary in the same issue, A local route to pain relief, that will give you a digested version of the article.
It’s a clever experiment to generate a very specific analgesia. I want you to do two things in an essay:
Half the essay should be a short description of the TRPV1 ion channel: specificity, permeability, gating, pharmacology, and structure. You’ll need to do some research beyond this one paper to answer the question adequately.
The rest should be a critical analysis of the voltage-clamp method used in the Binshtok et al. paper. Don’t try to explain every result in the paper: focus on a key result and show me that you understand how to interpret the experiment and can explain the meaning of the data.
Oh, also! Let’s plan on meeting in the Turtle Mountain Cafe tomorrow morning instead of the classroom, again — I’ll need my coffee while we discuss chapters 10 and 11 of Soul Made Flesh.