Nature 436, 647-654 (4 August 2005) | doi:10.1038/nature03896

A possible unifying principle for mechanosensation

Ching Kung1


Of Aristotle's five senses, we know that sight, smell and much of taste are initiated by ligands binding to G-protein-coupled receptors; however, the mechanical sensations of touch and hearing remain without a clear understanding of their molecular basis. Recently, the relevant force-transducing molecules—the mechanosensitive ion channels—have been identified. Such channel proteins purified from bacteria sense forces from the lipid bilayer in the absence of other proteins. Recent evidence has shown that lipids are also intimately involved in opening and closing the mechanosensitive channels of fungal, plant and animal species.

  1. Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Department of Genetics, University of Wisconsin, 1525 Linden Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA

Correspondence to: Ching Kung1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to C.K. (Email:


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