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Cell Tissue Res. 2000 Mar;299(3):327-34.

Epithelial Na+ channels and stomatin are expressed in rat trigeminal mechanosensory neurons.

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Department of Neuroanatomy, Institute of Anatomy MA6/152, Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany.


Caenorhabditis elegans MEC-4 and MEC-10 are subunits of the degenerin/epithelial Na+ channel (DEG/ENaC) ion channel superfamily thought to be associated with MEC-2 (a stomatin-like protein) in a mechanotransducing molecular complex in specialized touch sensory neurons. A key question is whether analogous molecular complexes in higher organisms transduce mechanical signals. To address this question, we selected mechanoreceptors of the rat vibrissal follicle-sinus complex in the mystacial pad and the trigeminal ganglia for an immunocytochemical and molecular biological study. RT-PCR of poly(A+) mRNA of rat trigeminal ganglia indicated that alpha-, beta-, and gamma-ENaC and stomatin mRNA are expressed in rat trigeminal ganglia. Using immunocytochemistry, we found that alpha-, beta-, and gamma-ENaC subunits and stomatin are localized in the perikarya of the trigeminal neurons and in a minor fraction of their termination site in the vibrissal follicle-sinus complex, where longitudinal lanceolate endings are immunopositive. We conclude that alpha-, beta-, and gamma-ENaC subunits as well as the candidate interacting protein stomatin are coexpressed in a mammalian mechanoreceptor, a location consistent with a possible role in mechanotransduction.

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