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Science 335 (6074): 1373-1376

Copyright © 2012 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The Transcription Factor c-Maf Controls Touch Receptor Development and Function

Hagen Wende,1 Stefan G. Lechner,2 Cyril Cheret,1 Steeve Bourane,3 Maria E. Kolanczyk,1 Alexandre Pattyn,4 Katja Reuter,1,* Francis L. Munier,5 Patrick Carroll,4 Gary R. Lewin,2 Carmen Birchmeier1,{dagger}

Abstract: The sense of touch relies on detection of mechanical stimuli by specialized mechanosensory neurons. The scarcity of molecular data has made it difficult to analyze development of mechanoreceptors and to define the basis of their diversity and function. We show that the transcription factor c-Maf/c-MAF is crucial for mechanosensory function in mice and humans. The development and function of several rapidly adapting mechanoreceptor types are disrupted in c-Maf mutant mice. In particular, Pacinian corpuscles, a type of mechanoreceptor specialized to detect high-frequency vibrations, are severely atrophied. In line with this, sensitivity to high-frequency vibration is reduced in humans carrying a dominant mutation in the c-MAF gene. Thus, our work identifies a key transcription factor specifying development and function of mechanoreceptors and their end organs.

1 Developmental Biology, Max Delbrück Center (MDC) for Molecular Medicine, Robert-Rössle-Strasse 10, 13125 Berlin, Germany.
2 Molecular Physiology, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Robert-Rössle-Strasse 10, 13125 Berlin, Germany.
3 Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.
4 INSERM U.1051, 80 Rue Augustin Fliche, 34091 Montpellier cedex 05, France.
5 Jules Gonin Eye Hospital, Avenue de France 15, 1004 Lausanne, Switzerland.

* Present address: University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: cbirch{at}mdc-berlin.de


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