Piezo1 ion channels inherently function as independent mechanotransducers.
Piezo1 is a mechanically activated ion channel involved in sensing forces in various cell types and tissues. Cryo-electron microscopy has revealed that the Piezo1 structure is bowl-shaped and capable of inducing membrane curvature via its extended footprint, which indirectly suggests that Piezo1 ion channels may bias each other's spatial distribution and interact functionally. Here, we use cell-attached patch-clamp electrophysiology and pressure-clamp stimulation to functionally examine large numbers of membrane patches from cells expressing Piezo1 endogenously at low levels and cells overexpressing Piezo1 at high levels. Our data, together with stochastic simulations of Piezo1 spatial distributions, show that both at endogenous densities (1-2 channels/μm2), and at non-physiological densities (10-100 channels/μm2) predicted to cause substantial footprint overlap, Piezo1 density has no effect on its pressure sensitivity or open probability in the nominal absence of membrane tension. The results suggest that Piezo channels, at densities likely to be physiologically relevant, inherently behave as independent mechanotransducers. We propose that this property is essential for cells to transduce forces homogeneously across the entire cell membrane.
Volume / Issue
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)