Caenorhabditis elegans TRPA-1 functions in mechanosensation

Katie S. Kindt, Veena Viswanath, Lindsey Macpherson, Kathleen Quast, Hongzhen Hu, Ardem Patapoutian, William R. Schafer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-577
Number of pages10
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007


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