The identity of ion channels involved in sensing mechanical force has remained elusive. Mechanically-activated (MA) cation channels function as touch/pain sensors, and are also required for hearing, adjustment of vascular tone and other functions. Indeed, mechanotransduction is the least understood sensory transduction system at the molecular level. We recently identified MA cation channel components in vertebrates named Piezo1 and Piezo2. Expressing Piezos in a variety of mammalian cell lines induce large MA cationic currents. Furthermore, we show that RNAi against Piezo2 in somatosensory neurons specifically downregulates rapidly-adapting MA cation currents. Here, we test the hypothesis that Piezo2 is required for somatosensory mechanotransduction

Public Health Relevance

TSRI Mechanical sensation is inextricably linked to inflammatory pain states caused by diseases such as Arthritis and Temperomandibular Disorders, where even minimal movement of joints (walking, chewing, and speaking) cause pain and lead to symptoms such as chronic headache and ringing in the ears. Therefore, a molecular understanding of thermal and mechanical sensation is important and relevant to the field of pain.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
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Somatosensory and Chemosensory Systems Study Section (SCS)
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Wan, Jason
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Scripps Research Institute
La Jolla
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Wu, Zizhen; Grillet, Nicolas; Zhao, Bo et al. (2017) Mechanosensory hair cells express two molecularly distinct mechanotransduction channels. Nat Neurosci 20:24-33
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