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1.  TRPC3 and TRPC6 are essential for normal mechanotransduction in subsets of sensory neurons and cochlear hair cells 
Open Biology  2012;2(5):120068.
Summary
Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels TRPC3 and TRPC6 are expressed in both sensory neurons and cochlear hair cells. Deletion of TRPC3 or TRPC6 in mice caused no behavioural phenotype, although loss of TRPC3 caused a shift of rapidly adapting (RA) mechanosensitive currents to intermediate-adapting currents in dorsal root ganglion sensory neurons. Deletion of both TRPC3 and TRPC6 caused deficits in light touch and silenced half of small-diameter sensory neurons expressing mechanically activated RA currents. Double TRPC3/TRPC6 knock-out mice also showed hearing impairment, vestibular deficits and defective auditory brain stem responses to high-frequency sounds. Basal, but not apical, cochlear outer hair cells lost more than 75 per cent of their responses to mechanical stimulation. FM1-43-sensitive mechanically gated currents were induced when TRPC3 and TRPC6 were co-expressed in sensory neuron cell lines. TRPC3 and TRPC6 are thus required for the normal function of cells involved in touch and hearing, and are potential components of mechanotransducing complexes.
doi:10.1098/rsob.120068
PMCID: PMC3376737  PMID: 22724068
mechanosensation; touch; hearing
2.  Sodium channels and mammalian sensory mechanotransduction 
Molecular Pain  2012;8:21.
Background
Members of the degenerin/epithelial (DEG/ENaC) sodium channel family are mechanosensors in C elegans, and Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 voltage-gated sodium channel knockout mice have major deficits in mechanosensation. β and γENaC sodium channel subunits are present with acid sensing ion channels (ASICs) in mammalian sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG). The extent to which epithelial or voltage-gated sodium channels are involved in transduction of mechanical stimuli is unclear.
Results
Here we show that deleting β and γENaC sodium channels in sensory neurons does not result in mechanosensory behavioural deficits. We had shown previously that Nav1.7/Nav1.8 double knockout mice have major deficits in behavioural responses to noxious mechanical pressure. However, all classes of mechanically activated currents in DRG neurons are unaffected by deletion of the two sodium channels. In contrast, the ability of Nav1.7/Nav1.8 knockout DRG neurons to generate action potentials is compromised with 50% of the small diameter sensory neurons unable to respond to electrical stimulation in vitro.
Conclusion
Behavioural deficits in Nav1.7/Nav1.8 knockout mice reflects a failure of action potential propagation in a mechanosensitive set of sensory neurons rather than a loss of primary transduction currents. DEG/ENaC sodium channels are not mechanosensors in mouse sensory neurons.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-8-21
PMCID: PMC3378430  PMID: 22449024
Mechanotransduction; Sodium channels; Pain; Nav1.7; Nav1.8; ENaCs
3.  A multi PDZ-domain protein Pdzd2 contributes to functional expression of sensory neuron-specific sodium channel NaV1.8 
The voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.8 is expressed exclusively in nociceptive sensory neurons and plays an important role in pain pathways. NaV1.8 cannot be functionally expressed in non-neuronal cells even in the presence of β-subunits. We have previously identified Pdzd2, a multi PDZ-domain protein, as a potential interactor for NaV1.8. Here we report that Pdzd2 binds directly to the intracellular loops of NaV1.8 and NaV1.7. The endogenous NaV1.8 current in sensory neurons is inhibited by antisense- and siRNA-mediated downregulation of Pdzd2. However, no marked change in pain behaviours is observed in Pdzd2-decificent mice. This may be due to compensatory upregulation of p11, another regulatory factor for NaV1.8, in dorsal root ganglia of Pdzd2-deficient mice. These findings reveal that Pdzd2 and p11 play collaborative roles in regulation of NaV1.8 expression in sensory neurons.
doi:10.1016/j.mcn.2009.07.003
PMCID: PMC2764382  PMID: 19607921
4.  High-Threshold Mechanosensitive Ion Channels Blocked by a Novel Conopeptide Mediate Pressure-Evoked Pain 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(6):e515.
Little is known about the molecular basis of somatosensory mechanotransduction in mammals. We screened a library of peptide toxins for effects on mechanically activated currents in cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons. One conopeptide analogue, termed NMB-1 for noxious mechanosensation blocker 1, selectively inhibits (IC50 1 µM) sustained mechanically activated currents in a subset of sensory neurons. Biotinylated NMB-1 retains activity and binds selectively to peripherin-positive nociceptive sensory neurons. The selectivity of NMB-1 was confirmed by the fact that it has no inhibitory effects on voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels, or ligand-gated channels such as acid-sensing ion channels or TRPA1 channels. Conversely, the tarantula toxin, GsMTx-4, which inhibits stretch-activated ion channels, had no effects on mechanically activated currents in sensory neurons. In behavioral assays, NMB-1 inhibits responses only to high intensity, painful mechanical stimulation and has no effects on low intensity mechanical stimulation or thermosensation. Unexpectedly, NMB-1 was found to also be an inhibitor of rapid FM1-43 loading (a measure of mechanotransduction) in cochlear hair cells. These data demonstrate that pharmacologically distinct channels respond to distinct types of mechanical stimuli and suggest that mechanically activated sustained currents underlie noxious mechanosensation. NMB-1 thus provides a novel diagnostic tool for the molecular definition of channels involved in hearing and pressure-evoked pain.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000515
PMCID: PMC1885214  PMID: 17565368

Results 1-4 (4)