Beyond somatosensation: Mrgprs in mucosal tissues
Mas-related G coupled receptors (Mrgprs) are a superfamily of receptors expressed in sensory neurons that are known to transmit somatic sensations from the skin to the central nervous system. Interestingly, Mrgprs have recently been implicated in sensory and motor functions of mucosal-associated neuronal circuits. The gastrointestinal and pulmonary tracts are constantly exposed to noxious stimuli. Therefore, it is likely that neuronal Mrgpr signaling pathways in mucosal tissues, akin to their family members expressed in the skin, might relay messages that alert the host when mucosal tissues are affected by damaging signals. Further, Mrgprs have been proposed to mediate the cross-talk between sensory neurons and immune cells that promotes host-protective functions at barrier sites. Although the mechanisms by which Mrgprs are activated in mucosal tissues are not completely understood, these exciting studies implicate Mrgprs as potential therapeutic targets for conditions affecting the intestinal and airway mucosa. This review will highlight the central role of Mrgpr signaling pathways in the regulation of homeostasis at mucosal tissues.