Mechanosensitive or stretch-activated (SA) channels respond to membrane stress by changes in open probability. These channels exist in auditory cells, stretch receptors, muscle spindles, vascular endothelium, and other neurosensory tissues where their physiological function seems readily apparent. It is less obvious why non-excitable cells, such as those of blood and epithelial tissues, need channels that respond to mechanical stimuli. Clearly, all cells must cope with the dual problems of volume regulation and electrolyte homeostasis. Since the primary function of epithelia is salt and water transport, these cells face both extracellular and intracellular osmotic challenges. For example, Na transporting epithelia in the intestine and kidney must accommodate significant variations in net solute uptake without suffering destructive changes in cell volume, caused by slight discrepancies between influx and efflux .
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