Mechanotransduction is the process by which mechanical force is transformed into an electrical or biochemical signal. Mechanotransduction underlies a variety of senses, including touch, hearing, and proprioception. Some basic physiological processes, such as blood pressure regulation and bladder function, also depend on mechanotransduction for their normal function. Despite its widespread importance, the channels and molecules mediating mechanotransduction are largely unknown. In our lab, we use Drosophila larvae as a model to study mechanosensation in touch and sound and are currently working to extend our work into a mammalian system. We have recently shown that NompC is a primary channel mediating gentle touch in Drosophila larvae (Yan et al., Nature, 2013).
The module I teach will give students experience in handling flies, larvae, and performing experiments using mechanotransduction mutants. Students will learn the basics of fly genetics and be given the opportunity to design their own experiments. We hope you join the module!