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Multiple desensitization mechanisms of mechanotransducer

J Neurosci. 2010 Oct ;30(40):13384-95
Multiple desensitization mechanisms of mechanotransducer channels shape firing of mechanosensory neurons.
Hao J, Delmas P.

How desensitization of mechanotransducer currents regulates afferent signal generation in mammalian sensory neurons is essentially unknown. Here, we dissected desensitization mechanisms of mechanotransducer channels in rat sensory neurons that mediate the sense of touch and pain. We identified four types of mechanotransducer currents that distribute differentially in cutaneous nociceptors and mechanoreceptors and that differ in desensitization rates. Desensitization of mechanotransducer channels in mechanoreceptors was fast and mediated by channel inactivation and adaptation, which reduces the mechanical force sensed by the transduction channel. Both processes were promoted by negative voltage. These properties of mechanotransducer channels suited them to encode the dynamic parameters of the stimulus. In contrast, inactivation and adaptation of mechanotransducer channels in nociceptors had slow time courses and were suited to encode duration of the stimulus. Thus, desensitization properties of mechanotransducer currents relate to their functions as sensors of phasic and tonic stimuli and enable sensory neurons to achieve efficient stimulus representation.


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