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Efferent Control of the Electrical and Mechanical Properties of Hair Cells in the Bullfrog’s Sacculus

By Manuel Castellano-muñoz, Samuel H. Israel and A. J. Hudspeth

Abstract

Background: Hair cells in the auditory, vestibular, and lateral-line systems respond to mechanical stimulation and transmit information to afferent nerve fibers. The sensitivity of mechanoelectrical transduction is modulated by the efferent pathway, whose activity usually reduces the responsiveness of hair cells. The basis of this effect remains unknown. Methodology and Principal Findings: We employed immunocytological, electrophysiological, and micromechanical approaches to characterize the anatomy of efferent innervation and the effect of efferent activity on the electrical and mechanical properties of hair cells in the bullfrog’s sacculus. We found that efferent fibers form extensive synaptic terminals on all macular and extramacular hair cells. Macular hair cells expressing the Ca 2+-buffering protein calretinin contain half as many synaptic ribbons and are innervated by twice as many efferent terminals as calretinin-negative hair cells. Efferent activity elicits inhibitory postsynaptic potentials in hair cells and thus inhibits their electrical resonance. In hair cells that exhibit spiking activity, efferent stimulation suppresses the generation of action potentials. Finally, efferent activity triggers a displacement of the hair bundle’s resting position. Conclusions and Significance: The hair cells of the bullfrog’s sacculus receive a rich efferent innervation with the heaviest projection to calretinin-containing cells. Stimulation of efferent axons desensitizes the hair cells and suppresses their spiking activity. Although efferent activation influences mechanoelectrical transduction, the mechanical effects on hair bundles ar

Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.352.496
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