Kindt KS*, Viswanath V*, Macpherson L, Quast K, Hu H, Patapoutian A, Schafer WR (2007). Caenorhabditis elegans TRPA-1 functions in mechanosensation. Nat Neurosci 10(5): 568-577. PMID: 17450139
Members of the transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channel family mediate diverse sensory transduction processes in both vertebrates and invertebrates. In particular, members of the TRPA subfamily have distinct thermosensory roles in Drosophila, and mammalian TRPA1 is postulated to have a function in noxious cold sensation and mechanosensation. Here we show that mutations in trpa-1, the C. elegans ortholog of mouse Trpa1, confer specific defects in mechanosensory behaviors related to nose-touch responses and foraging. trpa-1 is expressed and functions in sensory neurons required for these mechanosensory behaviors, and contributes to neural responses of these cells to touch, particularly after repeated mechanical stimulation. Furthermore, mechanical pressure can activate C. elegans TRPA-1 heterologously expressed in mammalian cells. Collectively, these data demonstrate that trpa-1 encodes an ion channel that can be activated in response to mechanical pressure and is required for mechanosensory neuron function, suggesting a possible role in mechanosensory transduction or modulation.