Mechanotransducing Ion Channels
Mechanical transduction is the most widespread sensory modality in animals. Specialized organs of the cochlea (Hudspeth, 1983) and vestibular system provide our sense of hearing and local gravity. Our sense of touch and vibration, particularly in the skin, is mediated by a variety of specialized mechanosensors and possibly free nerve endings (Iggo and Andres, 1982). Muscle tension is transduced by Ia afferent nerves in muscle spindles, while tendon tension is transduced by Golgi tendon organs. Joint position is transduced by poorly understood receptors in the joint capsule. The inflation of hollow organs is reported by sensory nerves of the autonomic nervous system, although the location of the actual transducers is not known and may reside in nerve cells, muscle cells, or other types of supporting cells. Inflation of blood vessels is used to measure blood pressure. Inflation of the lung, gut, bladder, mammary glands, and probably cerebrospinal fluid all provides essential feedback for autonomic regulation. Osmoregulation at the systemic level and cell volume itself (Kregenow, 1981) are likely to be controlled by feedback from membrane tension.
KeywordsHair Cell Membrane Tension Free Nerve Ending Golgi Tendon Organ Mechanoelectrical Transduction
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