Mechanotransduction channels have been proposed as force sensors in various physiological processes, such as hearing and touch. In particular, TMC1 has been shown to constitute the pore of hair cell mechanotransduction channels, but little is known about how force is sensed by TMC channels. Here, we identify UNC-44/ankyrin as an essential component of the TMC-1 mechanotransduction channel complex in the sensory cilia of Caenorhabditis elegans mechanoreceptor neurons. Ankyrin binds indirectly to TMC-1 via evolutionarily conserved CIB proteins, which are required for TMC-1-mediated mechanosensation in C. elegans OLQ neurons and body wall muscles. Mechanosensory activity conferred by ectopically expressed TMCs in mechanoinsensitive neurons depends on both ankyrin and CIB proteins, indicating that the ankyrin-CIB subcomplex is required for TMC mechanosensitivity. Our work indicates that ankyrin is a long-sought intracellular tether that transmits force to TMC mechanotransduction channels.
Keywords: C. elegans; CIB; TMC; ankyrin; gating spring; hair cells; mechanotransduction channel; nose touch; tether.
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