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Pflugers Arch. 2009 Oct;458(6):1115-23. doi: 10.1007/s00424-009-0683-x. Epub 2009 May 28.

Defining features of the hair cell mechanoelectrical transducer channel.

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Department of Physiology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, 185 Medical Sciences Building, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


This review summarizes current knowledge of the hair cell mechanotransducer channel, the ion channel responsible for detecting mechanical stimuli in the inner ear and one of the few channels whose molecular structure is still unknown. Several candidate proteins have been proposed, especially members of the transient receptor potential (TRP) channel family, but all have so far failed in one test or another. Furthermore, none has biophysical properties exactly matching the native channel. The defining features of the native mechanotransducer channel are documented, including ionic permeability, channel structure inferred from blocking agents, diversity in channel conductance, and regulation by Ca(2+), which are compared with a potential candidate, TRP channels of the polycystin family. The strengths and weaknesses of a TRP channel contender are discussed.

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