Observations on the Cytoskeleton and Related Structures of Mammalian Cochlear Hair Cells
The cytoskeleton of sensory hair cells is of particular interest since it is likely to affect the characteristics of mechano-electrical transduction in the cochlea, either indirectly, by maintaining the cellular morphology which results in precise tensions or stiffnesses, or directly, by modifying these features. At least one class of hair cell, the outer hair cell, can undergo both slow and rapid length changes (Brownell, 1985; Ashmore, 1987; Zenner et al., 1987), and the rootlets of stereocilia have been suggested to change in length after noise exposure (Liberman and Dodds 1987). Which cytoskeletal components are involved in these structural changes is not yet known. Ultrastructural differences between outer hair cells (OHCs) and inner hair cells (IHCs) have been proposed to result in differences in function — certain structures have been suggested to occur exclusively in one or other of the two cell types and related to motility as a consequence, e.g., the pillars which link the subsurface cistern to the plasmalemma (Flock et al., 1986). Other structures which occur in both OHCs and IHCs have been suggested to underly the process of transduction itself, e.g. the tip links on stereocilia (Pickles et al., 1984). It is therefore of interest to continue to make ultrastructural observations on the morphology of the hair cells which may be relevant to the mechanics of the cochlea.
KeywordsHair Cell Actin Filament Outer Hair Cell Cochlear Hair Cell Sensory Hair Cell
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