Membrane Mechanics of Primary Afferent Neurons in the Dorsal Root Ganglia of Rats

Academic Article


  • Membrane mechanics is an important biological factor regulating many cellular functions including cell motility, intercellular and intracellular signaling, gene expression, and membrane ion channel activity. Primary afferent neurons transduce sensory information about temperature, touch, and pain. These sensory functions may be profoundly affected by the states of primary afferent neuron mechanics. However, membrane mechanics of primary afferent neurons is largely unknown. In this study, we established the optical trapping technique for determining membrane mechanics of cultured primary afferent neurons of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG). We further determined the roles of cytoskeleton and membrane lipids in DRG neuron mechanics. We found that DRG neurons had a plasma membrane tension of ∼54 pN/μm, and the tension was significantly decreased to ∼29 pN/μm by cytochalasin D treatment to disrupt actin cytoskeleton and increased to ∼79 pN/μm by methyl-β-cyclodextrin treatment to sequester membrane cholesterol. DRG neuron membrane stiffness was not significantly affected by the cytoskeleton disruption but was significantly increased after cholesterol sequestration. Our findings elucidate membrane mechanical properties of primary afferent neurons, which provide, to our knowledge, a new perspective on their sensory functions.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kanda H; Gu JG
  • Start Page

  • 1654
  • End Page

  • 1662
  • Volume

  • 112
  • Issue

  • 8