Genetic and molecular studies of touch avoidance in the nematode have resulted in a molecular model for a mechanotransducing complex. and encode proteins hypothesized to be subunits of a mechanically gated ion channel that are related to subunits of the vertebrate amiloride-sensitive epithelial Na+ channel. Products of , a novel collagen, and , a protein that includes multiple Kunitz-type protease inhibitor repeats and EGF repeats, may interact with the channel in the extracellular matrix. Inside the cell, specialized 15-protofilament microtubules composed of α-tubulin and β-tubulin may be linked to the mechanosensitive channel by stomatin-homologous MEC-2. MEC-4 and MEC-10 are members of a large family of proteins, the degenerins. Two other degenerins, UNC-8 and DEL-1, are candidate components of a stretch-sensitive channel in motor neurons. Implications for advancing understanding of mechanotransduction in other systems are discussed.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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