Protein That Sends 'Painful Touch' Signals Identified
In two landmark papers in the journal Nature this week, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute report that they have identified a class of proteins that detect "painful touch."
Scientists have known that sensory nerves in our skin detect pressure, pain, heat, cold, and other stimuli using specialized "ion channel" proteins in their outer membranes. They have only just begun, however, to identify and characterize the specific proteins involved in each of these sensory pathways. The new work provides evidence that a family of sensory nerve proteins known as piezo proteins are ion channel proteins essential to the sensation of painful touch.