Mechanical transduction by rat dorsal root ganglion neurons in vitro

Neurosci Lett. 1999 Oct 8;273(3):179-82. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3940(99)00665-5.


Although it is generally presumed that mechanical sensitivity of somatosensory nerve fibers results from the activation of mechanosensitive ion channels, a mechanically-gated whole-cell current has never been demonstrated in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. We performed patch clamp experiments on rat DRG neurons in culture, and report the first mechanically-activated current in somatosensory neurons (I(mech)). This whole-cell current is observed in most dorsal root ganglion neurons but not in non-sensory sympathetic ganglion neurons. The current-voltage relation of I(mech) indicates that it is a non-selective cation current. Sensitivity of I(mech) to block by gadolinium suggests that it may be mediated by a member of a family of mechanosensitive non-selective cation channels observed in many cell types. Sensitivity to benzamil supports this idea, and further suggests that the current might be mediated by a member of the degenerin/ epithelial sodium channel (DEG/ENaC) family.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Amiloride / analogs & derivatives
  • Amiloride / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gadolinium / pharmacology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / drug effects
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology*
  • Ion Channels / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Male
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Ion Channels
  • benzamil
  • Amiloride
  • Gadolinium