The curious case of TMEM120A: Mechanosensor, fat regulator, or antiviral defender?

Bioessays 44 (6):2200045 (2022)
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Abstract

Mechanical pain sensing, adipogenesis, and STING‐dependent innate immunity seem three distinct biological processes without substantial relationships. Intriguingly, TMEM120A, a transmembrane protein, has been shown to detect mechanical pain stimuli as a mechanosensitive channel, contribute to adipocyte differentiation/function by regulating genome organization and promote STING trafficking to active cellular innate immune response. However, the role of TMEM120A as a mechanosensitive channel was challenged by recent studies which cannot reproduce data supporting its role in mechanosensing. Furthermore, the molecular mechanism by which TMEM120A contributes to adipocyte differentiation/function and promotes STING trafficking remains elusive. In this review, we discuss these multiple proposed functions of TMEM120A and hypothesize the molecular mechanism underlying TMEM120A's role in fatty acid metabolism and STING signaling.

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