Research ArticleCELLULAR NEUROSCIENCE

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

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

Abstract

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.

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