Voltage oscillations and ionic conductances in hair cells isolated from the alligator cochlea
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Tall hair cells were isolated by enzymatic and mechanical dissociation from selected regions of the apical half of the alligator (A. mississippiensis) cochlea. Single cells were subjected to voltage-clamp and current-clamp using the tight-seal whole-cell recording technique. Most hair cells isolated from the apex of the cochlea produced slowly regenerative depolarizations or Na action potentials during current injection, whereas hair cells isolated from more basal regions usually produced voltage oscillations (ringing) in response to depolarizing current injection, an indication of electrical resonance. Resonant frequencies ranged from 50 to 157 Hz in different cells. The higher-frequency cells tended to have larger and more rapidly activating outward currents than did the lower-frequency cells. An inward Ca current and an outward Ca-activated K current were present in all hair cells. In addition, an inwardly rectifying current and a small, transient outward current were often seen. Thus, we conclude that an electrical tuning mechanism is present in alligator hair cells. The role of the ionic conductances in shaping hair cell responses to current injection, and the possible contributions of these electrical responses to cochlear function are discussed.
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