Active cochlear amplification is dependent on supporting cell gap junctions

Yan Zhu, Chun Liang, Jin Chen, Liang Zong, Guang Di Chen, Hong Bo Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Mammalian hearing relies upon active cochlear mechanics, which arises from outer hair cell electromotility and hair bundle movement, to amplify acoustic stimulations increasing hearing sensitivity and frequency selectivity. Here we describe the novel finding that gap junctions between cochlear supporting cells also have a critical role in active cochlear amplification in vivo. We find that targeted-deletion of connexin 26 in Deiters cells and outer pillar cells, which constrain outer hair cells standing on the basilar membrane, causes a leftward shift in outer hair cell electromotility towards hyperpolarization, and reduces active cochlear amplification with hearing loss. Coincident with large reduction in distortion product otoacoustic emission and severe hearing loss at high frequencies, the shift is larger in shorter outer hair cells. Our study demonstrates that active cochlear amplification in vivo is dependent on supporting cell gap junctions. These new findings also show that connexin 26 deficiency can reduce active cochlear amplification to induce hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1786
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr Guillermo Oliver at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, for kindly providing Prox1-Cre mouse line. This work was supported by NIH R01 DC 05989.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • Physics and Astronomy (all)


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