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Neurosci Lett. 1998 Nov 13;256(3):155-8.

Density of motility-related charge in the outer hair cell of the guinea pig is inversely related to best frequency.

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Section of Otolaryngology and Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Whole cell voltage clamp and freeze fracture were used to study the electrophysiological and ultrastructural correlates of the outer hair cell (OHC) lateral membrane molecular motors. We find that specific voltage-dependent capacitance, which derives from motility-related charge movement, increases as cell length decreases. This increasing non-linear charge density predicts a corresponding increase in sensor-motor density. However, while OHC lateral membrane particle density increases, a quantitative correspondence is absent. Thus, the presumed equivalence of particle and motor is questionable. The data more importantly indicate that whereas the voltage driving OHC motility, i.e. the receptor potential, may decrease with frequency due to the OHC's low-pass membrane filter, the electrical energy (Q x V) supplied to the lateral membrane will tend to remain stable. This conservation of energy delivery is likely crucial for the function of the cochlear amplifier at high frequencies.

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