Detecting protein that plays a role in sensing cold weather

The scientists studied thousands of randomly inherited gene variants to determine which gene variants influence the worm’s response to cold air.

Researchers at the University of Michigan in the US have identified a protein that senses changes in weather as winter approaches.

Lead author of the study, scientist Shawn Xu, said: “Obviously, nerves under the skin can feel cold. But no one has been able to pinpoint their exact receptors. , now we have the answer.”

Detecting protein that plays a role in sensing cold weather
Gene glr-3 plays a large role in the peripheral sensing system.

Taking advantage of the simple body structure of a roundworm species named Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), scientists have conducted research on thousands of random genetic variants to determine the variable. Which genes influence the response of worms to cold air?

The team of scientists found that worms lacking the glr-3 gene did not respond when the temperature dropped below 18 degrees Celsius.

The gene glr-3 is responsible for creating the GLR-3-sensing protein and preserving the evolution of all species, including humans.

Research indicates that worms would be less sensitive to cold temperatures, if their bodies did not have the protein GLR-3. Extending the study of the role of the glr-3 gene to vertebrates such as striped flounder, mice and humans, the scientists also recorded similar results.

In mice, the gene version of glr-3 has the scientific name GluK2 – a gene known for its role in chemical signaling in the brain.

However, through this new study, the scientists also found that the glr-3 gene is also active in a group of neurons that help mice detect environmental stimuli, such as temperature. , through tactile perception.

Scientist Shawn Xu emphasized: “In recent years, the scientific community has focused on studying the function of this gene in the brain. Now, we have found that this gene also plays a large role in the sensing system. This is really exciting. It’s one of the few sensory organs that hasn’t been identified in nature.”