The Hering–Breuer inflation reflex, described some 150 years ago, is thought to protect the lung from overinflation thanks to stretch-activated sensory neurons that innervate the lung, but the actual molecular and cellular mechanisms involved have remained unknown. Ardem Patapoutian and colleagues find that this reflex is absent in adult mice that lack the mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo2, which was previously implicated in the skin’s sense of touch. Surprisingly, Piezo2 is also required for initial lung inflation at birth, thus establishing a role for mechanotransduction in respiratory control in both newborn and adult mice.
- Piezo2 senses airway stretch and mediates lung inflation-induced apnoea (Article p176, doi: 10.1038/nature20793)
- Mechanosensor of lung inflation identified (News & Views p165, doi: 10.1038/nature21111)
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