The motile response of isolated guinea pig outer hair cells (OHCs) was investigated using a combination of whole-cell patch clamp recording and continuous video image analysis. OHC's length, width, and area were measured from video images and the cell volume estimated from these values. Morphological data was then correlated with electrophysiological recordings of whole-cell current, membrane potential and voltage-dependent non-linear capacitance. Electromotility was evoked either by manipulating the membrane potential under voltage-clamp conditions or by exposing OHCs to high K+ solutions. Other motile responses were investigated in voltage-clamp experiments at constant holding potential, or exposing OHCs to solutions that did not affect the membrane potential. We found that electrical stimulation evoked voltage-dependent changes in OHC's length, width and area but not in cell volume regardless of the time course of stimulation. Moreover, changes in cell area were always associated with both voltage-dependent motility and non-linear capacitance, suggesting prestin dependency. In contrast, voltage-independent motile responses at constant membrane potential, which are presumed to be prestin-independent, were associated with changes in cell length, width and volume without significant changes in area. Area measurements, then, become a tool to investigate the simultaneous occurrence of both prestin-dependent and prestin-independent OHC motilities, and for evaluating the individual contribution of each mechanism to the total cell movement.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sensory Systems