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Neurosci Lett. 1999 Oct 8;273(3):179-82.

Mechanical transduction by rat dorsal root ganglion neurons in vitro.

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0440, USA.


Although it is generally presumed that mechanical sensitivity of somatosensory nerve fibers results from the activation of mechanosensitive ion channels, a mechanically-gated whole-cell current has never been demonstrated in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. We performed patch clamp experiments on rat DRG neurons in culture, and report the first mechanically-activated current in somatosensory neurons (I(mech)). This whole-cell current is observed in most dorsal root ganglion neurons but not in non-sensory sympathetic ganglion neurons. The current-voltage relation of I(mech) indicates that it is a non-selective cation current. Sensitivity of I(mech) to block by gadolinium suggests that it may be mediated by a member of a family of mechanosensitive non-selective cation channels observed in many cell types. Sensitivity to benzamil supports this idea, and further suggests that the current might be mediated by a member of the degenerin/ epithelial sodium channel (DEG/ENaC) family.

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