The Resting Transducer Current Drives Spontaneous Activity in Prehearing Mammalian Cochlear Inner Hair Cells

Department of Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 08/2012; 32(31):10479-83. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0803-12.2012
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Spontaneous Ca(2+)-dependent electrical activity in the immature mammalian cochlea is thought to instruct the formation of the tonotopic map during the differentiation of sensory hair cells and the auditory pathway. This activity occurs in inner hair cells (IHCs) during the first postnatal week, and the pattern differs along the cochlea. During the second postnatal week, which is before the onset of hearing in most rodents, the resting membrane potential for IHCs is apparently more hyperpolarized (approximately -75 mV), and it remains unclear whether spontaneous action potentials continue to occur. We found that when mouse IHC hair bundles were exposed to the estimated in vivo endolymphatic Ca(2+) concentration (0.3 mm) present in the immature cochlea, the increased open probability of the mechanotransducer channels caused the cells to depolarize to around the action potential threshold (approximately -55 mV). We propose that, in vivo, spontaneous Ca(2+) action potentials are intrinsically generated by IHCs up to the onset of hearing and that they are likely to influence the final sensory-independent refinement of the developing cochlea.

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    ABSTRACT: In the mature auditory system, inner hair cells (IHCs) convert sound-induced vibrations into electrical signals that are relayed to the central nervous system via auditory afferents. Before the cochlea can respond to normal sound levels, developing IHCs fire calcium-based action potentials that disappear close to the onset of hearing. Action potential firing triggers transmitter release from the immature IHC that in turn generates experience-independent firing in auditory neurons. These early signaling events are thought to be essential for the organization and development of the auditory system and hair cells. A critical component of the action potential is the rise in intracellular calcium that activates both small conductance potassium channels essential during membrane repolarization, and triggers transmitter release from the cell. Whether this calcium signal is generated by calcium influx or requires calcium-induced calcium release (CICR) is not yet known. IHCs can generate CICR, but to date its physiological role has remained unclear. Here, we used high and low concentrations of ryanodine to block or enhance CICR to determine whether calcium release from intracellular stores affected action potential waveform, interspike interval, or changes in membrane capacitance during development of mouse IHCs. Blocking CICR resulted in mixed action potential waveforms with both brief and prolonged oscillations in membrane potential and intracellular calcium. This mixed behavior is captured well by our mathematical model of IHC electrical activity. We perform two-parameter bifurcation analysis of the model that predicts the dependence of IHCs firing patterns on the level of activation of two parameters, the SK2 channels activation and CICR rate. Our data show that CICR forms an important component of the calcium signal that shapes action potentials and regulates firing patterns, but is not involved directly in triggering exocytosis. These data provide important insights into the calcium signaling mechanisms involved in early developmental processes. Copyright © 2015 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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    ABSTRACT: Voltage-gated calcium (Cav1.3) channels in mammalian inner hair cells (IHCs) open in response to sound and the resulting Ca2+ entry triggers the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate onto afferent terminals. At low to mid sound frequencies cell depolarization follows the sound sinusoid and pulses of transmitter release from the hair cell generate excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in the afferent fibre that translate into a phase-locked pattern of action potential activity. The present article summarises our current understanding on the elementary properties of single IHC Ca2+ channels, and how these could have functional implications for certain, poorly understood, features of synaptic transmission at auditory hair cell ribbon synapses.
    Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 04/2015; 9. DOI:10.3389/fncel.2015.00123 · 4.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hearing relies on faithful signal transmission by cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) onto auditory fibres over a wide frequency and intensity range. Exocytosis at IHC ribbon synapses is triggered by Ca2+ inflow through CaV1.3 (L-type) Ca2+ channels. We investigated the macroscopic (whole-cell) and elementary (cell-attached) properties of Ca2+ currents in IHCs positioned at the middle turn (frequency ∼2 kHz) of the adult gerbil cochlea, which is their most sensitive hearing region. Using near physiological recordings conditions (body temperature and a Na+ based extracellular solution), we found that the macroscopic Ca2+ current activates and deactivates very rapidly (time constant below 1 ms) and inactivates slowly and only partially. Single-channel recordings showed an elementary conductance of 15 pS, a sub-ms latency to first opening, and a very low steady-state open probability (Po: 0.024 in response to 500-ms depolarizing steps at ∼-18 mV). The value of Po was significantly larger (0.06) in the first 40 ms of membrane depolarization, which corresponds to the time when most Ca2+ channel openings occurred clustered in bursts (mean burst duration: 19 ms). Both the Po and the mean burst duration were smaller than those previously reported in high-frequency basal IHCs. Finally, we found that middle turn IHCs are likely to express about 4 times more Ca2+ channels per ribbon than basal cells. We propose that middle-turn IHCs finely-tune CaV1.3 Ca2+ channel gating in order to provide reliable information upon timing and intensity of lower-frequency sounds.
    PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e113750. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0113750 · 3.53 Impact Factor


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