The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

The resting transducer current drives spontaneous activity in prehearing mammalian cochlear inner hair cells.

PMID 22855797


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.