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J Neurosci. 1989 Nov;9(11):3988-97.

Regulation of tension on hair-cell transduction channels: displacement and calcium dependence.

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  • 1Neuroscience Group, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.


An epithelial preparation of the bullfrog sacculus was used to characterize the initial rate of the adaptation mechanism in hair cells and its dependence on displacement and calcium. The I(X) curve relating transduction current and bundle displacement shifted along the X-axis without substantial change in slope, as previously observed, suggesting that adaptation involves a change in the attachment point of the elastic element connected to ion channels. If the "tip links" model of transduction is correct, this implies that one end of the link moves along the side of the stereocilium. The rates were highly asymmetric: in the tensioning direction the rate was roughly constant at 1-2 microns/sec (calculated as motion along a stereocilium); this is similar to that of myosin on actin. In the relaxing direction it appeared linearly dependent on tension. Calcium preferentially potentiated the relaxation, and apparently reduced the resting tension in the elastic element. The calcium site appears specific for calcium, as other divalent cations inhibited its action. Dihydrostreptomycin inhibited the positive rate, but its effect could not be explained by a simple channel block, and it seems inconsistent with screening of negative charge in the mouth of the transduction channel.

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