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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2015 Oct;34:133-9. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2015.05.003. Epub 2015 Jun 19.

Mammalian touch catches up.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-3200, USA.
2
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-3200, USA. Electronic address: dbautista@berkeley.edu.
3
Department of Dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA; Department of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA. Electronic address: eal2166@columbia.edu.

Abstract

An assortment of touch receptors innervate the skin and encode different tactile features of the environment. Compared with invertebrate touch and other sensory systems, our understanding of the molecular and cellular underpinnings of mammalian touch lags behind. Two recent breakthroughs have accelerated progress. First, an arsenal of cell-type-specific molecular markers allowed the functional and anatomical properties of sensory neurons to be matched, thereby unraveling a cellular code for touch. Such markers have also revealed key roles of non-neuronal cell types, such as Merkel cells and keratinocytes, in touch reception. Second, the discovery of Piezo genes as a new family of mechanically activated channels has fueled the discovery of molecular mechanisms that mediate and mechanotransduction in mammalian touch receptors.

PMID:
26100741
PMCID:
PMC4577443
DOI:
10.1016/j.conb.2015.05.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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