Mechanosensing at the surface: signaling mechanisms in mammalian touch
Columbia University, 1150 St Nicholas Ave rm 302B, New York, NY 10032, USA.
My group studies genes, cells and signals underlying the sensations of touch, pain and itch. Our research has unveiled how mechanosensitive epithelial cells work in concert with the nervous system to generate different qualities of touch sensation. We have identified distinct sensory functions of epithelial Merkel cells using optogenetics, neurophysiology, intersectional mouse models and molecular approaches. Current studies are defining molecular mechanisms of cell-cell signaling between epithelia and neurons, unravelling conserved functions of mechanoreceptors across tissues, and elucidating mechanisms that establish and maintain epithelial-neuronal connections during development.