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Fast Electromechanical Amplification in the Lateral Membrane of the Outer Hair Cell

Elsevier Inc.
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2008.10.015
  • Cell Biophysics


Abstract Outer hair cells provide amplification within the mammalian cochlea to enhance audition. The mechanism is believed to reside within the lateral membrane of the cell that houses an expansive array of molecular motors, identified as prestin, which drives somatic electromotility. By measuring nonlinear capacitance, the electrical signature of electromotility, at kilohertz rates we have uncovered new details of the early molecular events that arise from voltage perturbations of prestin. We show that dynamic changes in motor state probability occur within the kilohertz range, and signify an amplificatory event. Additionally, we show a lack of effect of Cl driving force, an absence of cell length effect (indicating that the kinetics does not vary across auditory frequency), and the first demonstration of the time dependence of tension induced amplificatory shifts. The process we have identified, where the stimulus-response function shifts in time along the stimulus axis in a multi-exponential manner, bears similarities to those components of adaptation found in the OHC stereociliar transducer identified recently. As with the forward transducer, the speed of the reverse transducer amplificatory event consequently impacts on high frequency peripheral auditory processing.

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