Blockade of the transient receptor potential channel vanilloid subfamily 1 (TRPV1) is suggested as a therapeutic approach to pain relief. However, TRPV1 is a widely expressed protein whose function might be critical in various nonneuronal physiologic conditions. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a receptor tyrosine kinase that is overexpressed in many human epithelial cancers and is a potential target for anticancer drugs. Here, we show that TRPV1 interacts with EGFR, leading to EGFR degradation. Notably, the absence of TRPV1 in mice results in a striking increase in skin carcinogenesis. The TRPV1 is the first membrane receptor shown to have a tumor-suppressing effect associated with the down-regulation of another membrane receptor. The data suggest that, although a great deal of interest has focused on TRPV1 as a target for pain relief, the chronic blockade of this pain receptor might increase the risk for cancer development.
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