Mechanoreception is an essential feature of many sensory modalities. Nevertheless, the mechanisms that govern the conversion of a mechanical force to distinct patterns of action potentials remain poorly understood. Proprioceptive mechanoreceptors reside in skeletal muscle and inform the nervous system of the position of body and limbs in space. We show here that Whirlin/Deafness autosomal recessive 31 (DFNB31), a PDZ-scaffold protein involved in vestibular and auditory hair cell transduction, is also expressed by proprioceptive sensory neurons (pSNs) in dorsal root ganglia in mice. Whirlin localizes to the peripheral sensory endings of pSNs and facilitates pSN afferent firing in response to muscle stretch. The requirement of Whirlin in both proprioceptors and hair cells suggests that accessory mechanosensory signaling molecules define common features of mechanoreceptive processing across sensory systems.
- muscle spindle
- PDZ proteins
- sensory-motor control
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