Mechanoreceptors are sensory cells that detect mechanical stimuli and translate them into electrical nerve signals, mediating the perception of sound, touch and acceleration. We report that a putative receptor identified in the fruit fly Drosophila is shown to be potentially important for hearing and the amplification of mechanotransduction.
Supporting an extensive study of Joe Howard's laboratory at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genomics in Dresden, we identified 625 genes specifically active in mechanoreceptors of the fly's hearing organ. The candidate genes were identified by a two-way comparison of microarray expression profiles for tissues poor or rich in these receptors versus an unrelated neuronal tissue. This gave a screen for genes associated with the receptor that were not similarly active in other neuronal cells and thus likely responsible for mechanotransduction.
The ciliated mechanoreceptors possess an elaborate microtubule cytoskeleton that facilitates the coupling of external forces to the transduction apparatus. For a particular candidate gene, DCX-EMAP, our colleagues could show conclusively that it localizes to these structures. Disruptions to the gene, moreover, lead to flies that were uncoordinated, deaf, and displayed a loss of mechanosensory transduction and amplification.
Bechstedt S, Albert JT, Kreil DP, Müller-Reichert T, Göpfert MC, Howard J (2010) A doublecortin containing microtubule-associated protein is implicated in mechanotransduction in Drosophila sensory cilia, Nature Commun. 1, 11. (read more)