Mustard oils and cannabinoids excite sensory nerve fibres through the TRP channel ANKTM1.Nature. 2004 Jan 15; 427(6971):260-5.Nat
Wasabi, horseradish and mustard owe their pungency to isothiocyanate compounds. Topical application of mustard oil (allyl isothiocyanate) to the skin activates underlying sensory nerve endings, thereby producing pain, inflammation and robust hypersensitivity to thermal and mechanical stimuli. Despite their widespread use in both the kitchen and the laboratory, the molecular mechanism through which isothiocyanates mediate their effects remains unknown. Here we show that mustard oil depolarizes a subpopulation of primary sensory neurons that are also activated by capsaicin, the pungent ingredient in chilli peppers, and by Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana. Both allyl isothiocyanate and THC mediate their excitatory effects by activating ANKTM1, a member of the TRP ion channel family recently implicated in the detection of noxious cold. These findings identify a cellular and molecular target for the pungent action of mustard oils and support an emerging role for TRP channels as ionotropic cannabinoid receptors.