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  • Transduction without tip links in cochlear hair cells is mediated by ion channels with permeation properties distinct from those of the mechano-electrical transducer channel.

Transduction without tip links in cochlear hair cells is mediated by ion channels with permeation properties distinct from those of the mechano-electrical transducer channel.

The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience (2014-04-18)
Walter Marcotti, Laura F Corns, Terri Desmonds, Nerissa K Kirkwood, Guy P Richardson, Corné J Kros
RESUMEN

Tip links between adjacent stereocilia are believed to gate mechano-electrical transducer (MET) channels and mediate the electrical responses of sensory hair cells. We found that mouse auditory hair cells that lack tip links due to genetic mutations or exposure to the Ca(2+) chelator BAPTA can, however, still respond to mechanical stimuli. These MET currents have unusual properties and are predominantly of the opposite polarity relative to those measured when tip links are present. There are other striking differences, for example, the channels are usually all closed when the hair cell is not stimulated and the currents in response to strong stimuli can be substantially larger than normal. These anomalous MET currents can also be elicited early in development, before the onset of mechano-electrical transduction with normal response polarity. Current-voltage curves of the anomalous MET currents are linear and do not show the rectification characteristic of normal MET currents. The permeant MET channel blocker dihydrostreptomycin is two orders of magnitude less effective in blocking the anomalous MET currents. The findings suggest the presence of a large population of MET channels with pore properties that are distinct from those of normal MET channels. These channels are not gated by hair-bundle links and can be activated under a variety of conditions in which normal tip-link-mediated transduction is not operational.

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