Reviewed March 2013
What is the official name of the TRPV4 gene?
The official name of this gene is “transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily V, member 4.”
TRPV4 is the gene's official symbol. The TRPV4 gene is also known by other names, listed below.
Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.
What is the normal function of the TRPV4 gene?
The TRPV4 gene provides instructions for making a protein that acts as a calcium channel. This channel, which transports positively charged atoms of calcium (calcium ions) across cell membranes, is found in many types of cells and tissues. Studies suggest that the TRPV4 channel plays a role in a number of different functions in the body. These include the development of bones and cartilage, the tough but flexible tissue that makes up much of the skeleton during early development. It is also be involved in maintaining the body's water balance (osmoregulation) and in certain types of sensation, particularly the sensation of pain. The TRPV4 channel may also play a role in the self-destruction of cells (apoptosis). It likely has additional functions that have not been identified.
Does the TRPV4 gene share characteristics with other genes?
The TRPV4 gene belongs to a family of genes called TRP (transient receptor potential cation channels).
A gene family is a group of genes that share important characteristics. Classifying individual genes into families helps researchers describe how genes are related to each other. For more information, see What are gene families? in the Handbook.
How are changes in the TRPV4 gene related to health conditions?
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease - caused by mutations in the TRPV4 gene
At least seven mutations in the TRPV4 gene have been found to cause Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2C (also called hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy type 2C). This condition affects the peripheral nerves, which connect the brain and spinal cord to muscles and to sensory cells that detect sensations such as touch, pain, heat, and sound. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease causes loss of sensation, muscle weakness and wasting (atrophy) of muscles in the feet, hands, and legs. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2C caused by TRPV4 gene mutations has additional signs and symptoms that do not usually occur in other forms of the disorder. These additional signs and symptoms include hearing loss caused by nerve damage in the inner ear (sensorineural hearing loss), vocal cord weakness resulting in a hoarse voice, and weakness of the muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest cavity (the diaphragm), which can cause breathing problems.
The TRPV4 gene mutations responsible for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2C each change a single protein building block (amino acid) in the TRPV4 calcium channel. Studies suggest that these mutations overactivate the channel, increasing the amount of calcium that can flow into cells. It is unclear why this change specifically affects the nervous system and how the change is related to the particular neurological problems associated with this condition.
metatropic dysplasia - caused by mutations in the TRPV4 gene
At least 10 mutations in the TRPV4 gene have been identified in people with metatropic dysplasia, a skeletal disorder characterized by short stature (dwarfism) with other skeletal abnormalities. Most of these mutations change single amino acids in the TRPV4 calcium channel. However, a few mutations insert or delete pieces of DNA in the TRPV4 gene.
Studies suggest that the TRPV4 gene mutations that cause metatropic dysplasia overactivate the TRPV4 calcium channel. The resulting increase in calcium in cartilage-forming cells (chondrocytes) may disrupt the early development of cartilage and bone. However, it remains unclear why these mutations affect chondrocytes specifically and how changes in TRPV4 channel activity result in the particular skeletal abnormalities associated with metatropic dysplasia.
- other disorders - caused by mutations in the TRPV4 gene
Mutations in the TRPV4 gene cause a variety of other conditions, most of which affect the developing skeleton or the nervous system.
In addition to metatropic dysplasia, skeletal disorders associated with TRPV4 gene mutations include autosomal dominant brachyolmia; spondylometaphyseal dysplasia, Kozlowski type; spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, Maroteaux type; and parastremmatic dysplasia. These related conditions involve combinations of short stature, abnormal side-to-side and back-to-front curvature of the spine (kyphoscoliosis), and other problems with developing bones.
Mutations in the TRPV4 gene also cause neurological disorders. In addition to Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2C, this spectrum of related conditions includes congenital distal spinal muscular atrophy, which is characterized by weakness of muscles in the legs and hips, and scapuloperoneal spinal muscular atrophy, which involves weakness and wasting (atrophy) of muscles in the shoulders and lower legs.
Most of the TRPV4 gene mutations that cause these skeletal and neurological disorders change single amino acids in the TRPV4 calcium channel. These mutations likely result in an overactive channel, although some research suggests that the mutations may have different effects on channel function in different tissues. Certain TRPV4 gene mutations have been found to cause skeletal disorders in some people and neurological disorders in others. Additionally, some TRPV4 gene mutations can cause both skeletal and neurological features in the same individual. Researchers are working to determine how TRPV4 gene mutations can cause this wide variety of signs and symptoms.
Another bone disorder, known as familial digital arthropathy-brachydactyly, has also been associated with mutations in the TRPV4 gene. This condition is characterized by arthritis in the joints of the fingers and toes (arthropathy) and shortened fingers and toes (brachydactyly). The mutations that cause this condition appear to impair the function of the TRPV4 calcium channel, preventing it from transporting calcium ions effectively. It is unclear how a loss of channel function leads to the specific features of this condition.
Common variations (polymorphisms) in the TRPV4 gene have been associated with two additional disorders: hyponatremia, which is a condition of water imbalance that can cause dangerous brain swelling, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a common lung disease that causes difficulty breathing. It has not yet been determined how differences in the function of the TRPV4 calcium channel are related to these two conditions.
Because mutations in the TRPV4 gene are associated with such a wide array of conditions, some researchers have proposed referring to all TRPV4-related disorders as TRPV4-associated peripheral neuropathy and bony dysplasias (TRPV4-PNAB) or TRPV4-opathies.
Where is the TRPV4 gene located?
Cytogenetic Location: 12q24.1
Molecular Location on chromosome 12: base pairs 110,220,891 to 110,271,211
The TRPV4 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 12 at position 24.1.
More precisely, the TRPV4 gene is located from base pair 110,220,891 to base pair 110,271,211 on chromosome 12.
See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.
Where can I find additional information about TRPV4?
You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about TRPV4 helpful.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.
What other names do people use for the TRPV4 gene or gene products?
- OSM9-like transient receptor potential channel 4
- osm-9-like TRP channel 4
- osmosensitive transient receptor potential channel 4
- transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 4
- transient receptor potential protein 12
- vanilloid receptor-like channel 2
- vanilloid receptor-related osmotically activated channel
Where can I find general information about genes?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding TRPV4?
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for
professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about
a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified
See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.