The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster uses diverse mechanosensory neuron types to sense painful mechanical stimuli, touch, sound, gravity, body movements, substrate vibrations, and wind.
Drosophila mechanosensory neurons rely on mechanogated ion channels to transduce mechanical stimuli into ionic currents.
Two mechanotransduction channels were identified and additional candidates were delineated.
Mechanotransduction channel structures illustrate how ion channels are activated by mechanical stimuli.
Mechanosensation in Drosophila relies on sensory neurons transducing mechanical stimuli into ionic currents. The molecular mechanisms of this transduction are in the process of being revealed. Transduction relies on mechanogated ion channels that are activated by membrane stretch or the tension of force-conveying tethers. NOMPC (no-mechanoreceptor potential C) and DmPiezo were put forward as bona fide mechanoelectrical transduction (MET) channels, providing insights into MET channel architecture and the structural basis of mechanogating. Various additional channels were implicated in Drosophila mechanosensory neuron functions, and parallels between fly and vertebrate mechanotransduction were delineated. Collectively, these advances put forward Drosophila mechanosensory neurons as cellular paradigms for mechanotransduction and mechanogated ion channel function in the context of proprio- and nociception as well as the detection of substrate vibrations, touch, gravity, and sound.