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J Neurosci. 2019 Nov 13;39(46):9098-9106. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1408-19.2019. Epub 2019 Oct 2.

Hair Bundle Stimulation Mode Modifies Manifestations of Mechanotransduction Adaptation.

Author information

Department of Physiology and Biophysics.
Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado 80045.
Departments of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, and.
Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305.
Department of Physiology and Biophysics,


Sound detection in auditory sensory hair cells depends on the deflection of the stereocilia hair bundle which opens mechano-electric transduction (MET) channels. Adaptation is hypothesized to be a critical property of MET that contributes to the auditory system's wide dynamic range and sharp frequency selectivity. Our recent work using a stiff probe to displace hair bundles showed that the fastest adaptation mechanism (fast adaptation) does not require calcium entry. Using fluid-jet stimuli, others obtained data showing only a calcium-dependent fast adaptation response. Because cochlear stereocilia do not move coherently and the hair cell response depends critically on the magnitude and time course of the hair bundle deflection, we developed a high-speed imaging technique to quantify this deflection in rat cochlear hair cells. The fluid jet delivers a force stimulus, and force steps lead to a complex time course of hair bundle displacement (mechanical creep), which affects the hair cell's macroscopic MET current response by masking the time course of the fast adaptation response. Modifying the fluid-jet stimulus to generate a hair bundle displacement step produced rapidly adapting currents that did not depend on membrane potential, confirming that fast adaptation does not depend on calcium entry. MET current responses differ with stimulus modality and will shape receptor potentials of different hair cell types based on their in vivo stimulus mode. These transformations will directly affect how stimuli are encoded.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Mechanotransduction by sensory hair cells represents a key first step for the sound sensing ability in vertebrates. The sharp frequency tuning and wide dynamic range of sound sensation are hypothesized to require a mechanotransduction adaptation mechanism. Recent work indicated that the apparent calcium dependence of the fastest adaptation differs with the method of cochlear hair cell stimulation. Here, we reconcile existing data and show that calcium entry does not drive the fastest adaptation process, independent of the stimulation method. With force stimulation of the hair bundle, adaptation manifests differently than with displacement stimulation, indicating that the stimulation mode of the hair bundle will affect the hair cell receptor current and stimulus coding.


adaptation; fluid jet; mechanotransduction; stereocilia

[Available on 2020-05-13]

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