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Curr Biol. 2007 Jun 5;17(11):1000-6. Epub 2007 May 24.

Mechanical signatures of transducer gating in the Drosophila ear.

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Volkswagen Foundation Research Group, Institute of Zoology, University of Cologne, Weyertal 119, D-50923 Cologne, Germany. <>


Hearing relies on dedicated mechanotransducer channels that convert sound-induced vibrations into electrical signals [1]. Linking this transduction to identified proteins has proven difficult because of the scarcity of native auditory transducers and their tight functional integration into ears [2-4]. We describe an in vivo paradigm for the noninvasive study of auditory transduction. By investigating displacement responses of the Drosophila sound receiver, we identify mechanical signatures that are consistent with a direct mechanotransducer gating in the fly's ear. These signatures include a nonlinear compliance that correlates with electrical nerve responses, shifts with adaptation, and conforms to the gating-spring model of vertebrate auditory transduction. Analyzing this gating compliance in terms of the gating-spring model reveals striking parallels between the transducer mechanisms for hearing in vertebrates and flies. Our findings provide first insights into the mechanical workings of invertebrate mechanotransducer channels and set the stage for using Drosophila to specifically search for, and probe the roles of, auditory transducer components.

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