Article

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.
Journal of 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: Prior to the "onset of hearing," developing cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) and primary auditory neurons undergo experience-independent activity, which is thought to be important in retaining and refining neural connections in the absence of sound. One of the major hypotheses regarding the origin of such activity involves a group of columnar epithelial supporting cells forming Kölliker's organ, which is only present during this critical period of auditory development. There is strong evidence for a purinergic signalling mechanism underlying such activity. ATP released through connexin hemichannels may activate P2 purinergic receptors in both Kölliker's organ and the adjacent IHCs, leading to generation of electrical activity throughout the auditory system. However, recent work has suggested an alternative origin, by demonstrating the ability of IHCs to generate this spontaneous activity without activation by ATP. Regardless, developmental abnormalities of Kölliker's organ may lead to congenital hearing loss, considering that mutations in ion channels (hemichannels, gap junctions, and calcium channels) involved in Kölliker's organ activity share strong links with such types of deafness.
    BioMed Research International 01/2014; 2014:367939. · 2.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mechanotransduction in the auditory and vestibular systems depends on mechanosensitive ion channels in the stereociliary bundles that project from the apical surface of the sensory hair cells. In lower vertebrates, when the mechanoelectrical transducer (MET) channels are opened by movement of the bundle in the excitatory direction, Ca(2+) entry through the open MET channels causes adaptation, rapidly reducing their open probability and resetting their operating range. It remains uncertain whether such Ca(2+)-dependent adaptation is also present in mammalian hair cells. Hair bundles of both outer and inner hair cells from mice were deflected by using sinewave or step mechanical stimuli applied using a piezo-driven fluid jet. We found that when cochlear hair cells were depolarized near the Ca(2+) reversal potential or their hair bundles were exposed to the in vivo endolymphatic Ca(2+) concentration (40 µM), all manifestations of adaptation, including the rapid decline of the MET current and the reduction of the available resting MET current, were abolished. MET channel adaptation was also reduced or removed when the intracellular Ca(2+) buffer 1,2-Bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid (BAPTA) was increased from a concentration of 0.1 to 10 mM. The findings show that MET current adaptation in mouse auditory hair cells is modulated similarly by extracellular Ca(2+), intracellular Ca(2+) buffering, and membrane potential, by their common effect on intracellular free Ca(2+).
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2014; · 9.81 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. · 3.53 Impact Factor

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