nnel required for fruit fly touch sensation [R. Walker, A. Willingham, C. Zucker, Science 287, 2229 (2000)]. However, a homologue in higher animals or vertebrates was not found in any genomic databases, that is, this particular channel, NompC, appeared to be specific to invertebrates such as worms and flies.
The hope that NompC might mediate sensory hair cell transduction faded until recently, when Sidi and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tbingen and Medical Research in Heidelberg identified a vertebrate homologue of NompC in zebrafish. Eliminating the presence of the normal channel and thus its activity caused deafness in zebrafish larvae (3-4 days old). Electrical recordings from zebrafish sensory hair cells demonstrated that NompC is required for transduction of a mechanical stimulus. Thus, NompC is used both by lower animals such as fruit flies and vertebrates such as fish for sensing mechanical stimuli. It is very likely that this particular sensory system evolved in an ancestor common to both arthropds and chordates.
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Contact: Dr. Teresa Nicolson
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