Fluorescence-imaged microdeformation of the outer hair cell lateral wall

John S. Oghalai, Alpen A. Patel, Takashi Nakagawa, William E. Brownell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Outer hair cell (OHC) electromotility appears to be central to mammalian hearing and originates within its lateral wall. The OHC lateral wall is a unique trilaminate structure consisting of the plasma membrane (PM), the cortical lattice (CL), and the subsurface cisternae (SSC). We selectively labeled and imaged the lateral wall components in the isolated guinea pig OHC under confocal microscopy. The PM was labeled with a voltage-sensitive dye, di-8-ANEPPS; the SSC was labeled with the sphingomyelin precursor, NBD-C6- ceramide; and F-actin in the CL was labeled with conjugates of phalloidin. Interactions among the three layers were evaluated with the micropipette aspiration technique. The PM was tethered to the CL and SSC until, at a critical deformation pressure, the PM separated, allowing visualization of the extracisternal space, and ultimately formed a vesicle. After detaching, the stiffness parameter of the PM was 22% of that of the intact lateral wall. We conclude that the lateral wall PM is more compliant than the CL/SSC complex. The data clarify the structural basis for electromotile force coupling in the OHC lateral wall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-58
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


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