touché Is required for touch-evoked generator potentials within vertebrate sensory neurons.
The process by which light touch in vertebrates is transformed into an electrical response in cutaneous mechanosensitive neurons is a largely unresolved question. To address this question we undertook a forward genetic screen in zebrafish (Danio rerio) to identify mutants exhibiting abnormal touch-evoked behaviors, despite the presence of sensory neurons and peripheral neurites. One family, subsequently named touché, was found to harbor a recessive mutation which produced offspring that were unresponsive to light touch, but responded to a variety of other sensory stimuli. The optogenetic activation of motor behaviors by touché mutant sensory neurons expressing channelrhodopsin-2 suggested that the synaptic output of sensory neurons was intact, consistent with a defect in sensory neuron activation. To explore sensory neuron activation we developed an in vivo preparation permitting the precise placement of a combined electrical and tactile stimulating probe upon eGFP-positive peripheral neurites. In wild-type larva electrical and tactile stimulation of peripheral neurites produced action potentials detectable within the cell body. In a subset of these sensory neurons an underlying generator potential could be observed in response to subthreshold tactile stimuli. A closer examination revealed that the amplitude of the generator potential was proportional to the stimulus amplitude. When assayed touché mutant sensory neurons also responded to electrical stimulation of peripheral neurites similar to wild-type larvae, however tactile stimulation of these neurites failed to uncover a subset of sensory neurons possessing generator potentials. These findings suggest that touché is required for generator potentials, and that cutaneous mechanoreceptors with generator potentials are necessary for responsiveness to light touch in zebrafish.
Low, SE; Ryan, J; Sprague, SM; Hirata, H; Cui, WW; Zhou, W; Hume, RI; Kuwada, JY; Saint-Amant, L
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