Localization of Cholinergic and Purinergic Receptors on Outer Hair Cells Isolated from the Guinea-Pig Cochlea

G. D. Housley, D. Greenwood, J. F. Ashmore


Acetylcholine (ACh) and adenosine 5$^{\prime}$-triphosphate (ATP) are shown to act in opposing fashion on guinea-pig cochlear outer hair cells (OHCS) via receptors localized within different fluid compartments of the organ of Corti. The cholinergic (efferent) receptors localized at the basal (perilymphatic) region of these cells activated a rapidly desensitizing hyperpolarizing K$^{+}$ current. In contrast, purinergic (ATP) receptors were localized at the apical (endolymphatic) surface of OHCS and activated a depolarizing non-selective cation current which exhibited inward rectification and lacked desensitization. Localization of the receptors was determined by using whole-cell patch-clamp, by recording onset latencies and response amplitudes to pulses of either ACh or ATP pressure-applied at selected sites along the length of isolated OHCS. Under voltage-clamp at -60 mV, the largest ACh-induced (outward) currents were recorded when ACh was directed at the basal region of the cells. Conversely, the maximum (inward) ATP currents were obtained when ATP was directed toward the apical surface of these cells. Onset latencies increased rapidly from a minimum of approximately 10 ms for either ACh or ATP as the drug pipette was moved away from these optimal sites. The ATP response was antagonized by amiloride in a dose-dependent manner with a K$_{\text{D}}$ of approximately 400 $\mu $M. The localization of P$_{2}$-type purinoceptors to the endolymphatic surface of OHCS suggests that ATP mediates a humoral modulation of the mechano-electrical transduction process.

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