[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The remarkable sensitivity and frequency selectivity of the mammalian cochlea is attributed to a unique amplification process that resides in outer hair cells (OHCs). Although the mammalian-specific somatic motility is considered a substrate of cochlear amplification, it has also been proposed that somatic motility in mammals simply acts as an operating-point adjustment for the ubiquitous stereocilia-based amplifier. To address this issue, we created a mouse model in which a mutation (C1) was introduced into the OHC motor protein prestin, based on previous results in transfected cells. In C1/C1 knockin mice, localization of C1-prestin, as well as the length and number of OHCs, were all normal. In OHCs isolated from C1/C1 mice, nonlinear capacitance and somatic motility were both shifted toward hyperpolarization, so that, compared with WT controls, the amplitude of cycle-by-cycle (alternating, or AC) somatic motility remained the same, but the unidirectional (DC) component reversed polarity near the OHC's presumed in vivo resting membrane potential. No physiological defects in cochlear sensitivity or frequency selectivity were detected in C1/C1 or C1/+ mice. Hence, our results do not support the idea that OHC somatic motility adjusts the operating point of a stereocilia-based amplifier. However, they are consistent with the notion that the AC component of OHC somatic motility plays a dominant role in mammalian cochlear amplification.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2007; 104(30):12542-7. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The influence of increased intracellular calcium level on outer hair cell (OHC) electromotility was examined by means of transcellular electrical stimulation in a partitioning microchamber. Electromotile activity was measured before and after application of the calcium ionophore ionomycin, which promotes the inflow of extracellular calcium, as well as its release from intracellular calcium stores. The ionomycin solvent, dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO), by itself elicited a significant decrease in the magnitude of OHC electromotility. The DMSO effect was counteracted by 10 microM ionomycin and was reversed by 50 microM ionomycin. The increase in electromotility is partially mediated by a calmodulin-dependent mechanism, since W7, a calmodulin antagonist, attenuated the 50 microM ionomycin-induced motility increase. Our results suggest that the electromotility magnitude increase in isolated OHCs due to ionomycin is a calcium/calmodulin-dependent phenomenon.
Brain Research 01/2002; 922(1):65-70. · 2.88 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Outer hair cells (OHCs) of the mammalian cochlea actively change their cell length in response to changes in membrane potential. This electromotility, thought to be the basis of cochlear amplification, is mediated by a voltage-sensitive motor molecule recently identified as the membrane protein prestin. Here, we show that voltage sensitivity is conferred to prestin by the intracellular anions chloride and bicarbonate. Removal of these anions abolished fast voltage-dependent motility, as well as the characteristic nonlinear charge movement ("gating currents") driving the underlying structural rearrangements of the protein. The results support a model in which anions act as extrinsic voltage sensors, which bind to the prestin molecule and thus trigger the conformational changes required for motility of OHCs.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In order to identify hair cell specific genes, it is essential to obtain isolated hair cells in quantity. While whole-cell recordings have been made from isolated inner hair cells (IHCs) from guinea pigs, detailed methods for obtaining a fairly large amount of isolated inner hair cells have not been published. Here we describe a protocol that can yield a fairly large amount of isolated gerbil IHCs. This technique can provide sufficient numbers of solitary IHCs for either electrophysiological studies of the cell's membrane properties or identifying genes related to IHC functions using techniques of molecular biology.
Hearing Research 08/2000; 145(1-2):156-60. · 2.54 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The outer and inner hair cells of the mammalian cochlea perform different functions. In response to changes in membrane potential, the cylindrical outer hair cell rapidly alters its length and stiffness. These mechanical changes, driven by putative molecular motors, are assumed to produce amplification of vibrations in the cochlea that are transduced by inner hair cells. Here we have identified an abundant complementary DNA from a gene, designated Prestin, which is specifically expressed in outer hair cells. Regions of the encoded protein show moderate sequence similarity to pendrin and related sulphate/anion transport proteins. Voltage-induced shape changes can be elicited in cultured human kidney cells that express prestin. The mechanical response of outer hair cells to voltage change is accompanied by a 'gating current', which is manifested as nonlinear capacitance. We also demonstrate this nonlinear capacitance in transfected kidney cells. We conclude that prestin is the motor protein of the cochlear outer hair cell.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cochlear outer hair cells (OHCs) are dominantly innervated by efferents, with acetylcholine (ACh) being their principal neurotransmitter. ACh activation of the cholinergic receptors on isolated OHCs induces calcium influx through the ionotropic receptors, followed by a large outward K+ current through nearby Ca2+-activated K+ channels. The outward K+ current hyperpolarizes the cell, resulting in the fast inhibitory effects of efferent action. Although the ACh receptors (AChRs) in adult OHCs have been identified and the ACh-induced current responses have been characterized, it is unclear when the ACh-induced current responses occur during development. In this study we attempt to address this question by determining the time of onset of the ACh-induced currents in neonatal gerbil OHCs, using whole cell patch-clamp techniques. Developing gerbils ranging in age from 4 to 12 days were used in these experiments, because efferent synaptogenesis and functional maturation of OHCs occur after birth. Results show that the first detectable ACh-induced current occurred at 6 days after birth (DAB) in 12% of the basal turn cells with a small outward current. The fraction of responsive cells and the size of outward currents increased as development progressed. By 11 DAB, the fraction of responsive cells and the current size were comparable with those of adult OHCs. The results indicate that the maturation of the ACh-induced response begins around 6 DAB. It appears that the development of ACh-induced responses occur during the same time period when OHCs develop motility but before the onset of auditory function, which is around 12 DAB when cochlear microphonic potentials can first be evoked with acoustic stimulation in gerbils.
Journal of Neurophysiology 04/1999; 81(3):1162-70. · 3.30 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammalian outer hair cells (OHCs) contain Ca and K channels in their synaptic pole. We questioned if the ontogeny of potassium currents of OHCs depends on the neural induction of early afferent contact. By recording whole-cell currents of OHCs grown in organotypic cultures deprived of afferent innervation, we show that a Ca-activated K channel is expressed in these cells, suggesting that the ontogeny of the K channel is an intrinsic process.
Developmental Brain Research 11/1997; 103(1):95-7. · 1.78 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Outer hair cell (OHC) electromotility, which powers the cochlear amplifier, develops at a later stage of hearing ontogeny. There has been speculation whether efferents play a necessary role in directing or achieving OHC maturation in mammals. In this study, we examine whether the development of OHC motility depends on the establishment of efferent innervation of the cells' synaptic pole by measuring electromotility of OHCs grown in cultures, deprived of efferent innervation. Tissue cultures of the organ of Corti were prepared from the cochleas of newborn gerbils. Solitary OHCs were obtained from 4- to 15-d-old cultures by enzymatic digestion and mechanical trituration. Length changes evoked by transcellular electrical stimulation were detected and measured with a photodiode sensor. Results show that OHCs develop electromotility between 6 and 13 d in culture without the presence of efferent innervation. The timetable for the onset of OHC electromotility is comparable with that in vivo. This demonstrates that the ontogeny of OHC electromotility is an intrinsic process that does not require the influence of efferent innervation.
Journal of Neuroscience 06/1997; 17(10):3634-43. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The dominant efferent innervation of the cochlea terminates on outer hair cells (OHCs), with acetylcholine (ACh) being its principal neurotransmitter. OHCs respond with a somatic shape change to alterations in their membrane potential, and this electromotile response is believed to provide mechanical feedback to the basilar membrane. We examine the effects of ACh on electromotile responses in isolated OHCs and attempt to deduce the mechanism of ACh action. Axial electromotile amplitude and cell compliance increase in the presence of the ligand. This response occurs with a significantly greater latency than membrane current and potential changes attributable to ACh and is contemporaneous with Ca2+ release from intracellular stores. It is likely that increased axial compliance largely accounts for the increase in motility. The mechanical responses are probably related to a recently demonstrated slow efferent effect. The implications of the present findings related to commonly assumed efferent behavior in vivo are considered.
Journal of Neuroscience 04/1997; 17(6):2212-26. · 6.91 Impact Factor