Transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV1) transduces noxious chemical and physical stimuli in high-threshold nociceptors. The pivotal role of TRPV1 in the physiopathology of pain transduction has thrust the identification and characterization of interacting partners that modulate its cellular function. Here, we report that TRPV1 associates with gamma-amino butyric acid A-type (GABA(A)) receptor associated protein (GABARAP) in HEK293 cells and in neurons from dorsal root ganglia coexpressing both proteins. At variance with controls, GABARAP augmented TRPV1 expression in cotransfected cells and stimulated surface receptor clustering. Functionally, GABARAP expression attenuated voltage and capsaicin sensitivity of TRPV1 in the presence of extracellular calcium. Furthermore, the presence of the anchor protein GABARAP notably lengthened the kinetics of vanilloid-induced tachyphylaxia. Notably, the presence of GABARAP selectively increased the interaction of tubulin with the C-terminal domain of TRPV1. Disruption of tubulin cytoskeleton with nocodazole reduced capsaicin-evoked currents in cells expressing TRPV1 and GABARAP, without affecting the kinetics of vanilloid-induced desensitization. Taken together, these findings indicate that GABARAP is an important component of the TRPV1 signaling complex that contributes to increase the channel expression, to traffic and cluster it on the plasma membrane, and to modulate its functional activity at the level of channel gating and desensitization.
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