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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2012 Mar 15;302(6):H1241-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00818.2011. Epub 2012 Jan 6.

G protein-mediated stretch reception.

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Walther-Straub-Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Munich, Germany.


Mechanosensation and -transduction are important for physiological processes like the senses of touch, hearing, and balance. The mechanisms underlying the translation of mechanical stimuli into biochemical information by activating various signaling pathways play a fundamental role in physiology and pathophysiology but are only poorly understood. Recently, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which are essential for the conversion of light, olfactory and gustatory stimuli, as well as of primary messengers like hormones and neurotransmitters into cellular signals and which play distinct roles in inflammation, cell growth, and differentiation, have emerged as potential mechanosensors. The first candidate for a mechanosensitive GPCR was the angiotensin-II type-1 (AT(1)) receptor. Agonist-independent mechanical receptor activation of AT(1) receptors induces an active receptor conformation that appears to differ from agonist-induced receptor conformations and entails the activation of G proteins. Mechanically induced AT(1) receptor activation plays an important role for myogenic vasoconstriction and for the initiation of cardiac hypertrophy. A growing body of evidence suggests that other GPCRs are involved in mechanosensation as well. These findings highlight physiologically relevant, ligand-independent functions of GPCRs and add yet another facet to the polymodal activation spectrum of this ubiquitous protein family.

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