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Access to the article is free, however registration and sign-in are required. Structural studies reveal how mechanosensitive channels respond to membrane tension. One of the most fundamental challenges cells face involves the permeability of cell membranes to water. For example, osmotic downshock, which occurs when a bacterium is suddenly exposed to fresh water, leads to an influx of water across the membrane. Without safety valves to release their cellular contents, such cells cannot withstand the high internal pressures resulting from this influx. Two reports in this issue, by Wang et al. on page 1179 (1) and VÃ¡squez et al. on page 1210 (2), shed light on how bacteria address this challenge.
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