Sensory mechanotransduction at membrane-matrix interfaces.

Pflugers Archiv : European journal of physiology

PubMedID: 24981693

Poole K, Moroni M, Lewin GR. Sensory mechanotransduction at membrane-matrix interfaces. Pflugers Arch. 2014;.
Sensory cells specialized to detect extremely small mechanical changes are common to the auditory and somatosensory systems. It is widely accepted that mechanosensitive channels form the core of the mechanoelectrical transduction in hair cells as well as the somatic sensory neurons that underlie the sense of touch and mechanical pain. Here, we will review how the activation of such channels can be measured in a meaningful physiological context. In particular, we will discuss the idea that mechanosensitive channels normally occur in transmembrane complexes that are anchored to extracellular matrix components (ECM) both in vitro and in vivo. One component of such complexes in sensory neurons is the integral membrane scaffold protein STOML3 which is a robust physiological regulator of native mechanosensitive currents. In order to better characterize such channels in transmembrane complexes, we developed a new electrophysiological method that enables the quantification of mechanosensitive current amplitude and kinetics when activated by a defined matrix movement in cultured cells. The results of such studies strongly support the idea that ion channels in transmembrane complexes are highly tuned to detect movement of the cell membrane in relation to the ECM.