Mechanosensory hair cells of the vertebrate inner ear contribute to acoustic tuning through feedback processes involving voltage-gated channels in the basolateral membrane and mechanotransduction channels in the apical hair bundle. The specific number and kinetics of calcium-activated (BK) potassium channels determine the resonant frequency of electrically tuned hair cells. Kinetic variation among BK channels may arise through alternative splicing of gene mRNA and combination with modulatory β subunits. The number of transduction channels and their rate of adaptation rise with hair cell response frequency along the cochlea's tonotopic axis. Calcium-dependent feedback onto transduction channels may underlie active hair bundle mechanics. The relative contributions of electrical and mechanical feedback to active tuning of hair cells may vary as a function of sound frequency.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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