Mechanoelectrical transduction in the vertebrate inner ear is a highly conserved mechanism depending on K+ influx into hair cells. Here, we investigated the molecular underpinnings of subsequent K+ recycling in the chicken basilar papilla and compared it with those in the mammalian auditory sensory epithelium. Like mammals, the avian auditory hair cell uses KCNQ4, KCNMA1, and KCNMB1 as K+ efflux systems. Expression of KCNQ1 and KCNE1 suggests an additional efflux apparatus in avian hair cells. Marked differences were observed for K+ clearance. In mammals, KCC3, KCC4, Kir4.1, and CLC-K are present in supporting cells. Of these proteins, only CLC-K is expressed in avian supporting cells. Instead, they possess NKCC1 to move K+ across the membrane. This expression pattern suggests an avian clearance mechanism reminiscent of the well-established K+ uptake apparatus present in inner ear secretory cells. Altogether, tetrapod hair cells show similar mechanisms and supporting cells distinct molecular underpinnings of K+ recycling.
- Received February 14, 2017.
- Accepted May 16, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd