Ninety percent of Americans consume less than the estimated average requirements of dietary vitamin E (vitE). Severe vitE deficiency due to genetic mutations in the tocopherol transfer protein (TTPA) in humans results in ataxia with vitE deficiency (AVED), with proprioceptive deficits and somatosensory degeneration arising from dorsal root ganglia neurons (DRGNs). Single-cell RNA-sequencing of DRGNs was performed in Ttpa−/− mice, an established model of AVED. In stark contrast to expected changes in proprioceptive neurons, Ttpa−/− DRGNs showed marked upregulation of voltage-gated Ca2+ and K+ channels in mechanosensitive, tyrosine-hydroxylase positive (TH+) DRGNs. The ensuing significant conductance changes resulted in reduced excitability in mechanosensitive Ttpa−/− DRGNs. A highly supplemented vitE diet (600 mg dl-α-tocopheryl acetate/kg diet) prevented the cellular and molecular alterations and improved mechanosensation. VitE deficiency profoundly alters the molecular signature and functional properties of mechanosensitive TH+ DRGN, representing an intriguing shift of the prevailing paradigm from proprioception to mechanical sensation.
- Molecular Neuroscience
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