LA JOLLA, CA September 2, 2010 Scripps Research Institute scientists have identified two proteins with potential to be important targets for research into a wide range of health problems, including pain, deafness, and cardiac and kidney dysfunction.
The study was published in Science Express, the advanced, online edition of the journal Science, on September 2, 2010.
In the study, the Scripps Research scientists identify two proteins, which they named Piezo1 and Piezo2 from the Greek meaning "pressure," involved in the cellular response to mechanical stimulation.
"We are very excited about this finding," said Scripps Research Professor Ardem Patapoutian. "Piezo1 and Piezo2 could have a critical function in many biological systems and diseases. Scientists studying a variety of fieldspain and touch, hearing, sensing blood pressure, and so forthhave been hunting for these types of proteins for a long time."
"In general, our work focuses on how mammals sense physical stimuli such as temperature and pressure," said Research Associate Bertrand Coste, a postdoctoral researcher in the Patapoutian lab and first author of the paper. "Over the past 10 to 15 years, Ardem Patapoutian's lab and others have described ion channels, fast-signaling proteins, which are activated by shifts in temperature and are required for thermosensation. However, until now we did not know the identity of the proteins that sense force or pressure."
May the Force Be with Us
Mechanotransduction plays crucial and wide-ranging roles in physiology. In mammals, embryonic development, touch, pain, hearing, and lung growth are among the biological processes regulated by mechanotransduction. In plants, mechanical force strongly impacts growth, and unicellular organisms such as ciliates sense touch and change direction in response.
Mechanically activated cationic currents, ionic fluxes in the cell produced by applying pressure
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Scripps Research Institute