The senses of touch and hearing involve transduction of mechanical stimuli into electrical signals. The search for components of the transduction apparatus in mechanosensory neurons has benefited greatly from genetic approaches using both invertebrates and vertebrates. A consensus model has emerged that includes extracellular and intracellular structural components arranged around a central mechanically gated channel. In the sensory hair cell of the inner ear, the extracellular structural component thought to have a key role in opening the transduction channel is the tip link. Although elusive for decades, recent studies have yielded candidates for both the transduction channel and the tip link in hair cells.
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