Editors' ChoiceHEARING

Hair Cell Mechanosensitive Channel

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Science's STKE  14 Dec 2004:
Vol. 2004, Issue 263, pp. tw446
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2632004tw446

Mechanically gated ion channels were believed to underlie the perception of sound, but the identity of the channels has been elusive (see Ashmore). Corey et al. report that a member of the transient receptor potential (TRP) channel family TRPA1 is likely to be the long-sought mechanosensitive channel in vertebrates. Analysis of the mRNAs expressed from TRP channel encoding genes showed that TRPA1 was enriched in the mouse inner ear, and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis demonstrated that expression of TRPA1 occurred just prior to the onset of mechanical sensitivity of hair cells. Antibody labeling revealed that TRPA1 was present in the stereocilia tips, which is the proper location for the mechanosensitive channel. Knockdown of expression of the zebrafish homolog drtrpa1 inhibited function of the lateral line hair cells and the inner ear hair cells. Knockdown of expression of mouse Trpa1 in isolated hair cells also inhibited transduction currents. Thus, TRP channels have now been implicated in many forms of sensory perception: sight, touch, pain, osomosensing, and heat sensing, and now hearing.

J. Ashmore, Channel at the hair's end. Nature 432, 685-686 (2004). [Online Journal]

D. P. Corey, J. García-Añoveros, J. R. Holt, K. Y. Kwan, S.-Y. Lin, M. A. Vollrath, A. Amalfitano, E. L.-M. Cheung, B. H. Derfler, A. Duggan, G. S. G. Géléoc, P. A. Gray, M. P. Hoffman, H. L. Rehm, D. Tamasauskas, D.-S. Zhang, TRPA1 is a candidate for the mechanosensitive transduction channel of vertebrate hair cells. Nature 432, 723-730 (2004). [Online Journal]

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