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Scripps Research Institute scientists provide new grasp of soft touch
Date:4/6/2014

ffect of the loss of Piezo2 became apparent. "The mice whose Merkel cells lacked Piezo2 didn't respond to the gentler forces as much as the control mice did," said Woo.

Examining this change in responsiveness in more detail, Woo and her colleagues isolated Merkel cells from the two groups of mice. They found that those Merkel cells lacking Piezo2 failed to show the usual current flows when gently pushed with a probe.

Collaborating researchers in the laboratory of Cheryl L. Stucky at the Medical College of Wisconsin showed that gentle touch-sensing nerves known as slowly adapting (SA) Aβ fibers generally responded with a lower frequency of signaling in the mice lacking Piezo2 in Merkel cells. Another collaborating laboratory, led by Ellen A. Lumpkin at Columbia University, showed that Merkel cell-associated nerves also responded less durably to test stimuli on skin in these same mice.

"It all shows that the Merkel cells play an important role in touch sensing and that they need Piezo2 to do so," Woo said.

The findings were bolstered by a separate study from Lumpkin's laboratoryof which Patapoutian is a co-authorthat is reported in the same issue of Nature. In that study, mice engineered to lack Merkel cells exhibited touch-sensing deficits very similar to those described in the Patapoutian group's study.


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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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