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Inner ear mechanosensory hair cells convert mechanical vibrations into electrical signals via the coordinated interaction of multiple proteins precisely positioned within the sensory hair bundle. Present work identifies the time course for the acquisition and maturation of mechanoelectric transduction (MET) in rat cochlea outer hair cells maintained in(More)
Mechanoelectrical transduction channels of hair cells allow for the entry of appreciable amounts of Ca(2+), which regulates adaptation and triggers the mechanical activity of hair bundles. Most Ca(2+) that enters transduction channels is extruded by the plasma membrane Ca(2+)-ATPase (PMCA), a Ca(2+) pump that is highly concentrated in hair bundles and may(More)
We address three problems that limit the use of the atomic force microscope when measuring elastic moduli of soft materials at microscopic scales. The first concerns the use of sharp cantilever tips, which typically induce local strains that far exceed the linear material regime. We show that this problem can be alleviated by using microspheres as probes,(More)
Transduction-channel gating by hair cells apparently requires a gating spring, an elastic element that transmits force to the channels. To determine whether the gating spring is the tip link, a filament interconnecting two stereocilia along the axis of mechanical sensitivity, we examined the tip link's structure at high resolution by using rapid-freeze,(More)
Electromotility, i.e., the ability of cochlear outer hair cells (OHCs) to contract and elongate at acoustic frequencies, is presumed to depend on the voltage-driven conformational changes of "motor" proteins present in the OHC lateral plasma membrane. Recently, two membrane proteins have been proposed as candidates for the OHC motor. A sugar transporter,(More)
Hair cells of the inner ear are mechanosensors that transduce mechanical forces arising from sound waves and head movement into electrochemical signals to provide our sense of hearing and balance. Each hair cell contains at the apical surface a bundle of stereocilia. Mechanoelectrical transduction takes place close to the tips of stereocilia in proximity to(More)
Auditory outer hair cells can elongate and shorten at acoustic frequencies in response to changes of plasma membrane potential. We show that this fast bidirectional contractile activity consists of an electromechanical transduction process that occurs at the lateral plasma membrane and can be activated and analyzed independently in small membrane patches(More)
We have previously shown that the seemingly static paracrystalline actin core of hair cell stereocilia undergoes continuous turnover. Here, we used the same approach of transfecting hair cells with actin-green fluorescent protein (GFP) and espin-GFP to characterize the turnover process. Actin and espin are incorporated at the paracrystal tip and flow(More)
Hair cell ribbon synapses exhibit several distinguishing features. Structurally, a dense body, or ribbon, is anchored to the presynaptic membrane and tethers synaptic vesicles; functionally, neurotransmitter release is dominated by large EPSC events produced by seemingly synchronous multivesicular release. However, the specific role of the synaptic ribbon(More)
Class III myosins are motor proteins that contain an N-terminal kinase domain and a C-terminal actin-binding domain. We show that myosin IIIa, which has been implicated in nonsyndromic progressive hearing loss, is localized at stereocilia tips. Myosin IIIa progressively accumulates during stereocilia maturation in a thimble-like pattern around the(More)