Albert Aguayo Lecture: Deciphering where and how touch happens


Montreal Neurological Institute Jeanne Timmins Amphitheatre, 3801 rue University, Montreal, QC, H3A 2B4, CA


Speaker: Miriam Goodman, PhD

Professor and Chair, Molecular and Cellular Physiology

Stanford University, USA

Abstract: Touch is the first sense to develop, the last to fade and the least well understood of the five basic senses. We have long understood that ion channels were the first responders of touch sensation—converting the mechanical energy delivered in a touch or the bend of a limb into neural signals. Yet, the identity of the proteins forming such channels remained elusive for decades. Research in my group and others has identified at least three classes of proteins that can form these so-called mechanoelectrical transduction (MeT) channels in mammals and invertebrates: DEG/ENaC/ASIC sodium channels, TMC cation channels, TRP cation channels, and Piezo cation channels. Although other classes of force-sensitive channels are being discovered, their role in sensation is not yet known. The DEG/ENaC/ASIC and TMC channels are thought to activate through a force-from-filament activation mode, while the others operate in a force-from-lipid mode (reviewed in PMID: 26566115). Regardless of which force-dependent gating model applies, we hypothesize that the subcellular position of MeT channels is tightly regulated and helps to determine the threshold and dynamic range of touch sensation (PMID PMID: 31533952, 31407662, 26627717). Work in our research group integrates genetic dissection with cellular biophysics, molecular imaging, and techniques for controlled delivery of force its effect on ion channel activity and cellular tension. We focus on the touch receptor neurons in C. elegans as an ideal platform for integrating studies at the molecular, cellular, and behavioral levels. This talk will discuss evidence supporting the view that touch sensitivity depends on the molecular architecture of sensory neurons and present new work identifying the protein partners that determine and maintain MeT position.

Bio: Miriam B. Goodman, PhD is a sensory physiology seeking to understand how we feel by leading a diverse, interdisciplinary, and multi-national research group. Her research spans ion channels, neurons, and behavior as well as the physical and genetic basis of touch sensation. She is a professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford University and an award-winning educator and mentor. Named an outstanding investigator by the NINDS (US) in 2017, Dr. Goodman’s research has also been recognized by the Kate and Michael Bárány Award from the Biophysical Society and the Eppendorf and Science Prize in Neuroscience.

* A cocktail reception will follow

This annual lecture honours Dr. Albert Aguayo, OC, FRCP, Professor Emeritus founder and former Director of the Centre for the Research in Neuroscience at McGill University. He is a former President of the Society for Neurosciences and the Canadian Association of Neuroscience. Dr. Aguayo also held the positions of Secretary General and President of the International Brain Research Organization ( IBRO) and been a member of many international advisory committees and editorial boards. He holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Lund (Sweden), Cordoba ( Argentina) and Queen’s and Dalhousie in Canada. Albert Aguayo’s scientific contributions concerned the regenerative capacity of the adult mammalian central nervous system

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Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital
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