Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Electrokinetic shape changes of cochlear outer hair cells

Abstract

Rapid mechanical changes have been associated with electrical activity in a variety of non-muscle excitable cells1–5. Recently, mechanical changes have been reported in cochlear hair cells6–8. Here we describe electrically evoked mechanical changes in isolated cochlear outer hair cells (OHCs) with characteristics which suggest that direct electrokinetic phenomena are implicated in the response. OHCs make up one of two mechanosensitive hair cell populations in the mammalian cochlea; their role may be to modulate the micromechanical properties of the hearing organ through mechanical feedback mechanisms6–10. In the experiments described here, we applied sinusoidally modulated electrical potentials across isolated OHCs; this produced oscillatory elongation and shortening of the cells and oscillatory displacements of intracellular organdies. The movements were a function of the direction and strength of the electrical field, were inversely related to the ionic concentration of the medium, and occurred in the presence of metabolic uncouplers. The cylindrical shape of the OHCs and the presence of a system of membranes within the cytoplasm—laminated cisternae11—may provide the anatomical substrate for electrokinetic phenomena such as electro-osmosis12,13.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Iwasa, K., Tasaki, I. & Gibbons, R. C. Science 210, 338–339 (1980).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Tasaki, I. & Birne, P. M. Brain Res. 301, 265–272 (1984).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Tasaki, I. & Nakaye, T. Science 223, 411–413 (1984).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Brown, K. T. & Murakami, M. Nature 201, 626 (1964).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Hill, B. C., Schubert, E. D., Nokes, M. A. & Michelson, R. P. Science 196, 426–428 (1977).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Crawford, A. C. & Fettiplace, R. J. Physiol., Lond. 364, 359–379 (1985).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Brownell, W. E., Bader, C.R., Bertrand, D. & Ribaupierre, Y. Science 227, 194–196 (1985).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Zenner, H. P., Zimmermann, U. & Schmitt, U. Hearing Res. 18, 127–133 (1985).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Davis, H. Hearing Res. 9, 79–90 (1983).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Dallos, P. in Contemporary Sensory Neurobiology (eds Correia, M. J. & Perachio A. A.) 207–230 (Liss, New York, 1985).

    Google Scholar 

  11. Saito, K. Cell Tissue Res. 229, 467–481 (1983).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. McLaughlin, S. & Mathias, R. T. J. gen. Physiol. 85, 699–728 (1985).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Poo, M. A. Rev. Biophys. Bioengng 10, 245–276 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Chance, B., Williams, G. R. & Hollunger, G. J. biol. Chem. 278, 439–444 (1961).

    Google Scholar 

  15. Epstein, M. L., Sheridan, J. D. & Johnson, R. G. Expl Cell Res. 104, 25–30 (1977).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Horwitz, B. NeuroScience 12, 887–905 (1984).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Balasubramanian, A. & McLaughlin, S. Biochim. biophys. Acta 685, 1–5 (1982).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Morrison, F. A. & Osterele, J. F. J. chem. Phys. 43, 2111–2115 (1965).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Nee, T. W. J. Chromatography 105, 231–248 (1975).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Lim, D. J. J. acoust. Soc. Am. 67, 1686–1695 (1980).

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Bohne, B. A. & Carr, C. D. J. acoust. Soc. Am. 77, 153–158 (1985).

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Ashmore, J. & Brownell, W. E. J. Physiol., Lond. (Abstr.) (in the press).

  23. Brownell, W. E., Manis, P. B., Zidanic, M. & Spirou, G. A. J. acoust. Soc. Am. 74, 792–800 (1983).

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Brownell, W. E. & Kachar, B. in Peripheral Auditory Mechanisms (eds Alien, J. B. et al.) (Springer, New York, 1986).

    Google Scholar 

  25. Strelioff, D., Flock, A. & Minser, K. E. Hearing Res. 18, 169–175 (1985).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Weiss, T. F. Hearing Res. 7, 353–360 (1982).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Brown, N. C. & Nutall, A. J. Physiol., Lond. 354, 625–646 (1984).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Mountain, D. C. Science 210, 71–72 (1980).

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Wever, E. G. Physiol Rev. 46, 102–127 (1966).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Dallos, P. A Rev. Psychol. 32, 153–190 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. Inoue, S. J. Cell Biol. 89, 346–356 (1981).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. Flock, A. & Strelioff, D. Hearing Res. 15, 11–18 (1984).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. Siegel, J. H. & Kim, D. O. Hearing Res. 6, 171–182 (1982).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kachar, B., Brownell, W., Altschuler, R. et al. Electrokinetic shape changes of cochlear outer hair cells. Nature 322, 365–368 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1038/322365a0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/322365a0

This article is cited by

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing