Outer Hair Cells (OHCs)
Overview / Coupling / Membrane / Synapses / Active mechanism / Oto-acoustic emissions
Drawings: S. Blatrix; Picture: R. Pujol

Electromotile properties of OHCs are due to the their very specific lateral membrane and sub-plasma membrane cytoskeleton.

OHC lateral membrane and subplasma complex
(transmission electron microscopy)

R. Pujol

Endoplasmic reticulum cisternae are aligned along the OHC lateral membrane. Their numbers vary from 1 single row at the base to 5 to 6 rows (as in this picture from the third turn of a guinea pig cochlea) at the apex.

Same cochlea, basal turn. Between the plasma membrane and the single row of cisternae, the lattice of cytoskeleton can be distinguished: especially the transverse pillars.

scale bar: 100 nm

R. Pujol

Schematic drawing of the OHC lateral membrane and subplasma complex (adapted from refs. d3, d4)

Schematic arrangement of the OHC plasma membrane (green,) the subplasma membrane cytoskeleton (red), and the laminated cistern (blue).

See electronic zoom for details.

Atomic force microscopy of the OHC lateral membrane (outer surface) (from ref. d7)

This scan on 1 µm² of an OHC membrane allows to distinguish a very specific arrangement of globular particles aligned in two perpendicular directions.

Most of these are hollowed and could well be transmembrane proteins such as the the prestin motor?

R. Pujol

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