Little is known of molecular mechanisms of human mechanosensation. Only now are candidate eukaryotic sensors being identified. In contrast, bacterial sensors, including mechanosensitive channels, have been cloned, sequenced, reconstituted, and functional mutants characterized. Moreover, crystal structures for bacterial mechanosensitive channels have been resolved and structural gating transitions predicted. These studies give clues to general principles underlying the ability of a membrane protein to sense and respond to perturbations of its lipid environment that may be conserved between bacteria and humans.
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