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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2002 Feb;282(2):C403-7.

KCNJ10 (Kir4.1) potassium channel knockout abolishes endocochlear potential.

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Department of Anatomy and Physiology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 66506-5802, USA.


Stria vascularis of the cochlea generates the endocochlear potential and secretes K(+). K(+) is the main charge carrier and the endocochlear potential the main driving force for the sensory transduction that leads to hearing. Stria vascularis consists of two barriers, marginal cells that secrete potassium and basal cells that are coupled via gap junctions to intermediate cells. Mice lacking the KCNJ10 (Kir4.1) K(+) channel in strial intermediate cells did not generate an endocochlear potential. Endolymph volume and K(+) concentration ([K(+)]) were reduced. These studies establish that the KCNJ10 K(+) channel provides the molecular mechanism for generation of the endocochlear potential in concert with other transport pathways that establish the [K(+)] difference across the channel. KCNJ10 is also a limiting pathway for K(+) secretion.

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