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The Transcription Factor c-Maf Controls Touch Receptor Development and Function

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Science  16 Feb 2012:
1214314
DOI: 10.1126/science.1214314

Abstract

The sense of touch relies on detection of mechanical stimuli by specialized mechanosensory neurons. The scarcity of molecular data has made it difficult to analyze development of mechanoreceptors and to define the basis of their diversity and function. Here, we show that the transcription factor c-Maf/c-MAF is crucial for mechanosensory function in mice and humans. The development and function of several rapidly adapting mechanoreceptor types are disrupted in c-Maf mutant mice. In particular, Pacinian corpuscles, a type of mechanoreceptor specialized to detect high-frequency vibrations, are severely atrophied. In line with this, sensitivity to high-frequency vibration is reduced in humans carrying a dominant mutation in the c-MAF gene. Thus, our work identifies a key transcription factor specifying development and function of mechanoreceptors and their end organs.