Editors' ChoiceSensory Perception

Feeling No Pain

Sci. Signal.  20 Dec 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 204, pp. ec354
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4204ec354

Naked mole-rats live with up to 80 nest mates in deep underground tunnels with little oxygen exchange and high levels of CO2. Possibly because of this environment, naked mole-rats display remarkable acid insensitivity, despite containing the same acid sensors within their pain receptors as do other vertebrates. Smith et al. found that a specific variant in the sodium channel of naked mole-rat pain receptors was potently blocked by protons, thus inhibiting an action potential rather than exciting one.

E. St. J. Smith, D. Omerbašić, S. G. Lechner, G. Anirudhan, L. Lapatsina, G. R. Lewin, The molecular basis of acid insensitivity in the African naked mole-rat. Science 334, 1557–1560 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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