Mechanosensation solved?

TRP channels are involved in nearly every sense, including pain, taste, touch, and vision. Therefore, scientists pursuing the long-awaited “tip link” channel, which converts mechanical stimuli into hearing in stereocilia of the inner ear, have long expected a TRP channel to be at the root of the process. In December 2004, David Corey and collaborators at Harvard University identified TRPA1 as a strong candidate for the mechanotransducing tip link channel.1

“It’s headline news,” says Clifford Woolf of Harvard University. “It suggests TRPA1 as a serious candidate for the mechanosensor in the somatosensory system as well.” Others are more cautious. “It needs further genetic and pharmacological testing,” says David Julius of the University of California, San Francisco. He suggests that the development of better blockers for the TRPA1 channel will be needed before definitive proof can be obtained.

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May 10, 2005

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