Editors' ChoiceMechanotransduction

Touchy-Feely Genes

Science Signaling  18 Mar 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 317, pp. ec76
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005279

All animals need accurate proprioceptive sensation to control motor function. Desai et al. identified a Drosophila mutant with impaired walking coordination. The affected gene, stumble (stum), is conserved throughout the animal kingdom and expressed in a subpopulation of multidendritic neurons. stum-expressing neurons are found proximal to leg joints, and if the angle of the joint shifts, dendritic stretching occurs that in turn elevates cellular calcium. Therefore, it looks as if stum is a transducer for mechanical stimuli.

B. S. Desai, A. Chadha, B. Cook, The stum gene is essential for mechanical sensing in proprioceptive neurons. Science 343, 1256–1259 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]