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MDC researchers link protein tether to touch perception
Date:2/18/2010

ar to play any significant role in touch receptors.

When the researchers cleaved the filament with specific enzymes, thus cutting the link between the sensory ending and the extracellular matrix (ECM), the neurons were rendered completely insensitive to mechanical stimulation and touch. However, if the researchers waited twelve hours the filaments were again synthesized by the sensory cells and they became mechanosensitive once more.

"This means that touch can be perceived only when the protein filament is present. The filament renders the mechanosensitive ion channel highly sensitive to force and may even directly participate in opening and closing the channel " Professor Lewin explained.

However, this does not apply to the perception of mechanical pain. "Pain receptors" he emphasized, "are not dependent on this filament." According to the neurobiologists, the protein filaments may in the future be of great interest to medical research. Advancements in this area could help people whose sense of touch is impaired due to old age, improving their general well-being and mobility. There are also common syndromes where there is oversensitivity to touch, in the case of neuropathic pain where the slightest touch of feather may be perceived as painful, again accessing the tether may help in alleviating the symptoms.


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Contact: Barbara Bachtler
bachtler@mdc-berlin.de
49-309-406-3896
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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