One of the looming mysteries in signal transduction today is the question of how mechanical signals, such as pressure or mechanical force delivered to a cell, are interpreted to direct biological responses. All living organisms, and probably all cells, have the ability to sense and respond to mechanical stimuli. At the single-cell level, mechanical signaling underlies cell-volume control and specialized responses such as the prevention of poly-spermy in fertilization. At the level of the whole organism, mechanotransduction underlies processes as diverse as stretch-activated reflexes in vascular epithelium and smooth muscle; gravitaxis and turgor control in plants; tissue development and morphogenesis; and the senses of touch, hearing, and balance. Intense genetic, molecular, and elecrophysiological studies in organisms ranging from nematodes to mammals have highlighted members of the recently discovered DEG/ENaC family of ion channels as strong candidates for the elusive metazoan mechanotransducer. Here, we discuss the evidence that links DEG/ENaC ion channels to mechanotransduction and review the function of Caenorhabditis elegans members of this family called degenerins and their role in mediating mechanosensitive behaviors in the worm.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||18|
|Journal||Cell biochemistry and biophysics|
|State||Published - 2001|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology
- Epithelial sodium channel