A central question in mechanobiology is how mechanical forces acting in or on a cell are transmitted to mechanically-gated PIEZO channels that convert these forces into biochemical signals. Here we show that PIEZO2 is sensitive to force-transmission via the membrane (force-from-lipids) as well as force transmission via the cytoskeleton (force-from-filament) and demonstrate that the latter requires the intracellular linker between the transmembrane helices nine and ten (IDR5). Moreover, we show that rendering PIEZO2 insensitive to force-from-filament by deleting IDR5 abolishes PIEZO2-mediated inhibition of neurite outgrowth, which relies on the detection of cell-generated traction forces, while it only partially affects its sensitivity to cell indentation and does not at all alter its sensitivity to membrane stretch. Hence, we propose that PIEZO2 is a polymodal mechanosensor that detects different types of mechanical stimuli via different force transmission pathways, which highlights the importance of utilizing multiple complementary assays when investigating PIEZO channel function.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience