Humans and other animals are able to detect the cold weather of winter. For humans, sensing this may send us back inside for a warmer coat, a fox may return to its den, birds may fly to warmer climes, but how exactly do animals detect this coldness?
Researchers from the University of Michigan believe they have found the answer. The team looked at the genome of the tiny Caenorhabditis elegans worm, looking at thousands of random genetic variations with a view to discovering which ones were responsible for the worm’s ability to detect cold. They observed that worms that were lacking the glr-3 gene, which encodes the GLR-3 receptor protein, did not respond normally to cold temperatures. This indicates that the GLR-3 gene is required to detect cold temperatures.
The glr-3 gene has been conserved during evolution across species, including humans. The version of the gene present in mammals also detects cold, and when it was added to worms without the glr-3 gene it returned the worm’s sensitivity to cold temperatures. So next time you feel the nip of cold weather and bundle up, you can thank your cold receptor proteins.
Source: Science Daily
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