Caenorhabditis elegans TRPA-1 functions in mechanosensation

Nat Neurosci. 2007 May;10(5):568-77. doi: 10.1038/nn1886. Epub 2007 Apr 22.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • CHO Cells
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / physiology*
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Head Movements / physiology
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Membrane Potentials / genetics
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods
  • Reflex / genetics
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Transfection
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / genetics
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / physiology*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/EF535106
  • RefSeq/NM_059630