User:Tony J. Prescott/Proposed/Molecular basis of touch

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Although the ability to sense touch is shared by all animals, the molecular events responsible for this important sensory ability remain enigmatic. Regardless of the animal, this process is thought to involve activation of force-gated ion channels. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is currently the only one in which researchers have identified the protein partners that form such channels. This chapter reviews general principles of force sensation, the molecules believed to be key players in C. elegans, and considers the broad question of the molecular basis for variation in force sensitivity within and among animals. As of 19 October 2009, the chapter is presented in outline form only.


How does touch sensation work?

Touch sensation is (at least) a three-step process

The first step involves converting mechanical energy into an electrical signal

Common molecular ‘algorithm’ or diverse molecular implementations?

Force sensing

General principles

Mechano-chemical transduction

Mechano-electrical transduction

Direct v. indirect models
Tethered v. membrane-delimited

Force-gated ion channels in nematodes

The MeT channel complex in TRNs

Membrane proteins
Pore-forming subunits: MEC-4, MEC-10
Accessory subunits: MEC-2, MEC-6

Other (analgous) complexes in other C. elegans cells?

Putative force-gated ion channels in mammals


Do variations in sensitivity imply the existence of different cellular machines?

Conserved across phyla or (re)invented many times?

Further reading

External links

See also

Brain, Neuron, Scholarpedia:Instructions for authors

Dr. Miriam Goodman accepted the invitation on 6 October 2008 (self-imposed deadline: 6 April 2009).

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