The use of yeast to understand TRP-channel mechanosensitivity

Pflugers Arch. 2009 Sep;458(5):861-7. doi: 10.1007/s00424-009-0680-0. Epub 2009 May 22.


Mechanosensitive (MS) ion channels likely underlie myriad force-sensing processes, from basic osmotic regulation to specified sensations of animal hearing and touch. Albeit important, the molecular identities of many eukaryotic MS channels remain elusive, let alone their working mechanisms. This is in stark contrast to our advanced knowledge on voltage- or ligand-sensitive channels. Several members of transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channel family have been implicated to function in mechanosensation and are recognized as promising candidate MS channels. The yeast TRP homolog, TRPY1, is clearly a first-line force transducer. It can be activated by hypertonic shock in vivo and by membrane stretch force in excised patches under patch clamp, making it a useful model for understanding TRP channel mechanosensitivity in general. TRPY1 offers two additional research advantages: (1) It has a large ( approximately 300 pS) unitary conductance and therefore a favorable S/N ratio. (2) Budding yeast allows convenient and efficient genetic and molecular manipulations. In this review, we focus on the current research of TRPY1 and discuss its prospect. We also describe the use of yeast as a system to express and characterize animal TRP channels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / physiology
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / physiology*


  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels