Prog Biophys Mol Biol,
Mechano-gated ion channels are implicated in a variety of neurosensory functions ranging from touch sensitivity to hearing. In the heart, rhythm disturbance subsequent to mechanical effects is also associated with the activation of stretch-sensitive ion channels. Arterial autoregulation in response to hemodynamic stimuli, a vital process required for protection against hypertension-induced injury, is similarly dependent on the activity of force-sensitive ion channels. Seminal work in prokaryotes and invertebrates, including the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the fruit fly drosophila, greatly helped to identify the molecular basis of volume regulation, hearing and touch sensitivity. In mammals, more recent findings have indicated that members of several structural family of ion channels, namely the transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, the amiloride-sensitive ENaC/ASIC channels and the potassium channels K(2P) and K(ir) are involved in cellular mechanotransduction. In the present review, we will focus on the molecular and functional properties of these channel subunits and will emphasize on their role in the pressure-dependent arterial myogenic constriction and the flow-mediated vasodilation.