Decades-old model of slow adaptation in sensory hair cells is not supported in mammals

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  14 Aug 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 33, eabb4922
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb4922


Hair cells detect sound and motion through a mechano-electric transduction (MET) process mediated by tip links connecting shorter stereocilia to adjacent taller stereocilia. Adaptation is a key feature of MET that regulates a cell’s dynamic range and frequency selectivity. A decades-old hypothesis proposes that slow adaptation requires myosin motors to modulate the tip-link position on taller stereocilia. This “motor model” depended on data suggesting that the receptor current decay had a time course similar to that of hair-bundle creep (a continued movement in the direction of a step-like force stimulus). Using cochlear and vestibular hair cells of mice, rats, and gerbils, we assessed how modulating adaptation affected hair-bundle creep. Our results are consistent with slow adaptation requiring myosin motors. However, the hair-bundle creep and slow adaptation were uncorrelated, challenging a critical piece of evidence upholding the motor model. Considering these data, we propose a revised model of hair cell adaptation.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances