Mechanosensitivity is an essential component of phototransduction in vertebrate rods

by Ulisse Bocchero, Fabio Falleroni, Simone Mortal, Yunzhen Li, Dan Cojoc, Trevor Lamb, Vincent Torre

Photoreceptors are specialized cells devoted to the transduction of the incoming visual signals. Rods are able also to shed from their tip old disks and to synthesize at the base of the outer segment (OS) new disks. By combining electrophysiology, optical tweezers (OTs), and biochemistry, we investigate mechanosensitivity in the rods of Xenopus laevis, and we show that 1) mechanosensitive channels (MSCs), transient receptor potential canonical 1 (TRPC1), and Piezo1 are present in rod inner segments (ISs); 2) mechanical stimulation—of the order of 10 pN—applied briefly to either the OS or IS evokes calcium transients; 3) inhibition of MSCs decreases the duration of photoresponses to bright flashes; 4) bright flashes of light induce a rapid shortening of the OS; and 5) the genes encoding the TRPC family have an ancient association with the genes encoding families of protein involved in phototransduction. These results suggest that MSCs play an integral role in rods’ phototransduction.

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