Seeing, feeling have something in common

Protein needed for eye development also involved in detecting vibrations

When it comes to feeling good vibrations, the eyes have it. Experiments in mice and humans show that a protein important for eye development also plays a role in sensing vibrations. An international team has found that mice lacking a protein called c-Maf have deformed Pacinian corpuscles (shown here in a mouse’s leg), the vibration-detectors that surround mouse bones. People have Pacinian corpuscles in their palms and fingertips. When the researchers tested four people with eye cataracts due to malfunctioning c-Maf, those individuals had a hard time detecting high-frequency vibrations, the scientists report online February 16 in Science.

TOUCH PADS When the c-Maf protein malfunctions, eye cataracts result. The same protein is crucial for vibration-detecting Pacinian corpuscles (shown surrounding a mouse leg bone), which help human palms and fingertips sense high-frequency vibrations. Image courtesy of Hagen Wende and Carmen Birchmeier

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