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J Neurosci. 2000 Oct 1;20(19):7131-42.

Active hair bundle motion linked to fast transducer adaptation in auditory hair cells.

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Department of Physiology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


During transduction in auditory hair cells, hair bundle deflection opens mechanotransducer channels that subsequently reclose or adapt to maintained stimuli, a major component of the adaptation occurring on a submillisecond time scale. Using a photodiode imaging technique, we measured hair bundle motion in voltage-clamped turtle hair cells to search for a mechanical correlate of fast adaptation. Excitatory force steps imposed by a flexible glass fiber attached to the bundle caused an initial movement toward the kinocilium, followed by a fast recoil equivalent to bundle stiffening. The recoil had a time course identical to adaptation of the transducer current, and like adaptation, was most prominent for small stimuli, was slowed by reducing extracellular calcium, and varied with hair cell resonant frequency. In free-standing hair bundles, depolarizations positive to 0 mV evoked an outward current attributable to opening of transducer channels, which was accompanied by a sustained bundle deflection toward the kinocilium. Both processes were sensitive to external calcium concentration and were abolished by blocking the transducer channels with dihydrostreptomycin. The similarity in properties of fast adaptation and the associated bundle motion indicates the operation of a rapid calcium-sensitive force generator linked to the gating of the transducer channels. This force generator may permit stimulus amplification during transduction in auditory hair cells.

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